Lightning strike ignites brush fire within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Fire crews are battling a small brush fire within Volcanoes National Park that was ignited by a lightning strike Tuesday. The blaze is reported at 30% containment.
Hilina Pali Road is closed from the gate past Kulanaokuaiki Campground to the Hilina Pali Lookout due to fire suppression efforts to extinguish a 5-acre wildfire. Only authorized vehicles are permitted until further notice. Kaʻaha Trail is also closed.
“Lightning-caused fires in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park are an infrequent occurrence,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk. “While many areas in the state saw excessive rainfall with the Kona storm, the low did not bring a lot of rain to the lower elevation areas in the park.”
Park staff spotted a plume of smoke at 9:50 a.m. below Hilina Pali Lookout at the 2,000-foot elevation. A National Park Service crew of 15 firefighters responded and helicopter pilot David Okita dropped buckets of water on the fire. Efforts to put out the fire continue this morning.
Kulanaokuaiki Campground and Hilina Pali Road to the campground remain open, and drivers are reminded to observe the speed limit and watch for fire crews and vehicles on the road.
A Kona low brought fierce winds, widespread lightning and thunderstorms to Hawaiʻi Island earlier this week, and lightning from the storm was determined to be the cause. The fire is burning through a steep remote wilderness area dominated by nonnative grasses that contribute to the spread of fire, in addition to native dryland vegetation including ‘aʻaliʻi, pūkiawe, and small ʻōhiʻa.
Light winds and limited showers are forecast into the weekend.