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South Kohala Brush Fire 75% Contained, Road Closure Continues

By Tiffany DeMasters
August 14, 2021, 8:58 AM HST
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Courtesy of Pōhakuloa Training Area

Approximately 320 acres have been scorched in a brush fire that ignited in South Kohala near mile marker 48.5 off of Daniel K. Inouye Highway Friday, Aug. 13. The blaze is currently 75% contained.

A section of the highway was shut down at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Friday and remained closed throughout the night to allow Hawaiʻi Fire Departmentʻs apparatus access to the flames.

The closure from Old Saddle Road junction near mile marker 42 to the Highway 190 junction remains in place as of 8 a.m. this morning as dry and windy conditions are forecast for today. Motorists are advised to continue to use Old Saddle Road as a detour.

This morning, HFD Chief Kazuo Todd told Big Island Now the fire was looking good and there were dozer lines all around it. DLNRʻs Division of Forest and Wildlife, as well as Pōhakuloa Training Area, are also battling the blaze.

According to PTA spokesman Mike Donnelly, it is unclear how it started as it is in a remote area where no military training had occurred.

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Todd suspects Fridayʻs fire is a rekindling of a small brush fire that lit up Wednesday, Aug. 11. The cause is still under investigation. Wednesdayʻs fire, the chief added, started in three locations simultaneously. It was caught within 30 minutes.

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More military resources are coming to aid in putting out the blaze. According to PTA, the US Army has dispatched one UH-60 Blackhawk MEDEVAC aircraft from Bradshaw Army Airfield for aerial reconnaissance to compliment the two HFD helicopters already conducting water-bucket dropping efforts on the fire.

The PTA Commander has also requested three additional aircraft from Oʻahu to assist in containing the fire, and they are expected to be on the island early Saturday morning. Additionally, the county and US Army are moving dozers into place to create fire breaks to disrupt and ultimately stop the fire’s progress.

This is a developing story. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

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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