Big Island fires at military training area nearly contained; about 1,500 acres burned

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Two fires that broke out on Sunday after lightning strikes at the Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex on the Big Island are nearly contained as of Monday afternoon. Photo Courtesy: Pōhakuloa Training Area

Updated at 8 p.m. on Feb. 13: The Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex fires are nearly contained. There continue to be no threats to communities, roads or structures at this time.

While the larger of the two fires is a mile from Waiki’i Ranch, the community is protected by a thousand-meter buffer of grazing area that the U.S. Army established between the manuever area and Waiki’i Ranch.

The smaller fire continues to burn just mauka of Mamalahoa Highway and is about 90 percent contained as of 2:30 p.m. There is a fire break around the entire blaze. The larger fire is about 70 percent contained and is also ringed by a fire break.

Five bulldozers are actively deployed to fight the larger fire. Firefighters are also battling this fire. There is no change to the estimated 1,500 acres total burned by both fires.


“We are indebted to our brave firefighters, who have done a great job battling this blaze in a remote and rugged section of the Big Island,” Hawai’i County Mayor Mitch Roth said. “We especially want to thank the military for its assistance in keeping this fire contained.”

Three Army helicopters from the 25th Infantry Division on O’ahu flew in this morning (two UH-60 Blackhawks and one CH-47 Chinook) and assisted with water bucket drops throughout the day. These are in addition to a Pōhakuloa Training Area Medevac helicopter (HH-60) that was conducting water bucket drops. These helicopters will continue their efforts on Tuesday. A Hawai’i County helicopter has also been assisting with bucket drops.

Water drops were made over two fires at the Keamuku Maneuver Area. Photo Courtesy: Pōhakuloa Training Area

“We truly appreciate the tremendous team effort in fighting this fire – hunters and local residents calling emergency services on Sunday when they saw the lightning strikes and the fire; the Army flight helicopter crews from Oahu; and the firefighters and dozer operators from PTA, county, volunteers, and Department of Forestry and Wildlife for working throughout the day and night to try and keep the fires contained,” said Pōhakuloa Training Area Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin. “We truly are a team of teams.”

The Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex fire on the Big island has burned about 1,500 acres and is 5 percent contained as of the morning of Feb. 13, 2023. Photo Courtesy: Pōhakuloa Training Area

Updated at 1:12 p.m. on Feb. 13: Officials at Pōhakuloa Training Area say there is a 1,000-meter buffer between Waiki‘i and a brush fire that is burning in the Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex.


The fire is approximately a mile from Waiki‘i. Officials say the three bucket drops from Army helicopters were successful.

Original post: Two wildland fires that broke out Sunday following lightning strikes have burned about 1,500 acres of the remote Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex at the Pōhakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.

Currently, there is no community threat.  There are no units or troops training in the area, officials from the Pōhakuloa Training Area said.

The Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex fire is currently assessed at approximately 5 percent contained. Firefighting crews from the U.S. Army Garrison and Hawaiʻi County, along with volunteers and dozer operators continue to battle the fire and ongoing strong trade winds.


U.S. Army and Hawaiʻi County helicopters continue to support firefighters on the ground to contain the two wildland fires that started in the vicinity of the maneuver area between Highway 190 and Waikiʻi Ranch (an equestrian community) at about 3:20 p.m. on Sunday.

Military dozers and contract dozers continue to build fire lines to mitigate the spread of the fires. 

The Keamuku Maneuver Area Complex fire on the Big island on Feb. 13, 2023. Photo Courtesy: Pōhakuloa Training Area

The Pōhakuloa Training Area is bringing in three additional U.S. Army military helicopters (2x UH-60 Blackhawks and 1x CH-47 Chinook) from Oʻahu on Monday moring from the 25th Infantry Division, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade to support with water bucket drops.

Pōhakuloa Training Area is coordinating with Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense to ensure the public is kept informed.

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