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Fire Chief Reports Some Containment of Mana Road Brush Fire

By Tiffany DeMasters
August 3, 2021, 10:28 AM HST
* Updated August 3, 10:50 AM
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10:48 a.m. Update: Fire Chief Kazuo Todd reports that the Mana Road brush fire is now 75% contained. However, they are running into issues of goats, pigs and some farm animals migrating across major roadways.

Todd advises motorists to be cautious and drive slowly on Waikoloa Road, Daniel K. Inouye Highway, Old Saddle Road and Highway 190 as the migrating animals can become a traffic hazard.

A historic brush fire that scorched 40,000 acres in South Kohala has reached some containment, Hawai‘i Fire Chief Kazuo Todd confirmed this morning.

As of last night, Aug. 2, Todd said, the blaze was 50% contained. This morning, crews will fly over the burn area to provide an update on containment. Todd anticipates more control gained as firefighters had progressed in reigning in the flames that burned from Mana Road toward Maunakea then jumped Highway 190, just above Waikoloa Village.

“We’re rapidly closing up and demobilizing a lot of resources and turning this into a mop-up operation,” Todd told Big Island Now this morning. “It was humid last night and had showers that helped us.”

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Crews first responded to the blaze Friday, July 30, by Mana Road. On Saturday, smoke had saturated the sky across Waimea with billowing clouds visible from Waikoloa.

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On Saturday, residents of Pu‘ukapu Hawaiian Homestead and Waiki‘i Ranch were ordered to evacuate their homes as the blaze moved agressively through the area. The next day, a third evacuation order was issued for Waikoloa Village after high winds pushed the fire across Highway 190.

Evacuation orders were lifted Sunday night. Road closures ended Monday.

As of Tuesday, Todd said the fire is being fought on four different fronts: the Ke‘eaumoku area, Pu‘ukapu Hawaiian Homestead, Highway 190 and the southern flank against Maunakea.

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“We’re slowly closing in on calling this contained,” Todd said. “We haven’t had it grow from here, more move around within the area.”

The Mana Road brush fire is the largest blaze in Big Island history. The last massive fire, Todd said, was in the 1990s where 32,000 acres burned in Waikoloa.

There will be issues as a result of the fire in the coming weeks and months, Todd explained.

“We’re likely going to see a lot of ash and dirt being blown around — unfortunately, Waimea is a windy place,” the chief said, adding if there is any significant rain, there is concern for mudslides in the burn scar area.

Todd said he doesn’t think fire crews would’ve caught the fire as soon as they did without assistance from Pōhakuloa Training Area, the US National Guard and DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

At the height of the blaze Sunday, Aug. 1, 140 fire personnel were fighting the flames. Todd said an off-road tanker recently donated to HFD through the Daniel Sayre Foundation and the military’s Black Hawk helicopters doing water drops made a difference in stamping out the fire.

Two homes were confirmed destroyed. Todd said he’s seen picture of at least four scorched vehicles.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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