Formal Aerial Mapping of Leilani Wildfire Reduces Acreage to 16,400
The size of the Leilani wildfire has been reduced to 16,400 acres, following formal aerial mapping today. The percentage of the fire contained remains at 30%.
Today, firefighters from federal, state, and county fire departments, supported by heavy equipment and water-dropping helicopters, continued building fire lines and setting backfires to send the fire back into blackened areas where it is unlikely to spread.
“The last two days the fire was mostly burning in invasive fountain grass. It’s the first plant that comes in after fire disturbance,” said Steve Bergfeld, the Hawai‘i Island Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Wildlife, and one of three incident commanders on the fire. “Unfortunately, the fire has moved into some dryland forest which has native ōhiʻa lehua and we are trying to keep flames away from this sensitive area.”
Seven, contracted bulldozers, left a fire command post this morning, leading the way into the fire area, where the heavy machines continued building wide fire lines. Five helicopters from the U.S. Army’s Pōhakuloa Training Area are conducting aerial water drops. It’s hoped this all-out assault on the Leilani fire will result in firefighters gaining the upper hand in the next few days.
No homes or structures are endangered, and the fire is 2.1-miles from busy Highway 190, where earlier today, heavy smoke reduced visibility. At the intersection leading into Waikōloa Village, Hawai‘i Police officers were helping establish new temporary traffic patterns to accommodate the large water tankers that are replenishing brush trucks and “dip” tanks closer to the fire’s active front.
DOFAW has announced that the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve archery Makai hunt, and the youth and disabled hunt will be open this weekend. DOFAW staff will be at the hunter check station from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday to sell tags and answer questions. The forest reserve is nearby and hunters may experience smokey conditions.