Saturday PM Update: Fire 60% Contained
Just over 40 firefighters are back on the lines today, Saturday, Aug. 13 in their effort to control the Leilani wildfire that sparked on Wednesday and was initially fueled by carpets of dry fountain grass and strong, gusty winds.
Friday’s estimate reduced the overall acreage to around 16,800. No structures have been threatened.
As of this morning, incident commanders from federal, state, and county firefighting agencies estimate line is around about half the fire, meaning 50% containment. There are no estimates for full control of the fire.
Six helicopters, five bulldozers, and 13 engines, brush trucks, and water tenders are supplementing manpower on the ground.
Control work today includes:
Continuing creating breaks on the south side of fire.
Preventing fire from escaping containment line.
Secure breaks behind dozers with burning operations.
Chainsaw work to reduce heavy fuels in the ʻōhiʻa forest on the south side.
Wind speeds this morning are low but are expected to increase later in the day. High winds could cause the fire to quickly expand in size. The rough terrain is also hindering the ability of dozers to effectively cut fire line. No structures or communities are currently threatened.
Nick Agorastos, the manager of Hawai‘i Island Natural Area Reserves for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said the area, on the border of the South Kohala and North Kohala districts, has always been fire prone.
“This area exists in what most consider drought conditions due to its geography and rain patterns. The area averages 25-inches of rain annually, so it is perpetually dry. Fire can pop up almost any day of the year,” Agorastos explained.
He added that blazes like the Leilani fire are fueled by fire loving and adapted species, like fountain grass
“Any uptick in the frequency of fires, is likely due to changes in local weather and climate,” he said.