Helicopters dump 67,000 gallons of water on 2 fires at military training area on Big Island
Update at 3:58 p.m. Feb. 14: No change in fire-containment percentages has occurred since U.S. Army personnel issued a press release earlier today.
However, significant improvements were made to the fire breaks around both fires, the Army reported in an afternoon update.
Three U.S. Army military helicopters from the 25th Infantry Division on O‘ahu continued with water bucket drops throughout Tuesday, Feb. 14, in an effort to control and contain the fires. The water bucket drops total tens of thousands of gallons of water.
The helicopters will remain at Pōhakuloa Training Area overnight and be available for operations tomorrow as well. Afternoon winds have started to pick up and ground crews will continue to patrol and monitor hot spots. Crews concentrated on reducing the fuel load in various areas near the dozer lines.
Original Post: Over the last 24 hours good progress has been made to put out two fires in the remote Keamuku Maneuver Area, part of the U.S. Army’s Pōhakuloa Training Area on the Big Island —with the efforts including the dumping of more than 67,000 gallons of water by military helicopters, according to a press release from the training area.
There remains no community threat at this time.
The small fire by Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Highway 190) remains at approximately 90 percent contained, and the larger fire in the interior hills of Keamuku Maneuver Area remains at approximately 70 percent contained. The fires started on the afternoon of Feb. 12 by lightning strikes.
The combined sizes of the two fires are approximately 1,500 to 1,800 acres.
Three U.S. Army helicopters from the 25th Infantry Division, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade on Oʻahu will continue with water bucket drops throughout the day.
Yesterday, the brigade conducted 80 water bucket drops totaling 67,000 gallons of water.
Dozer crews made significant improvements to dozer lines on Monday night, and will continue to reinforce them on Tuesday. Both fires have at least one dozer line around them.
Focus on Tuesday will be getting at least double dozer lines around both fires and tightening up existing lines to make them drivable. Ground crews will patrol the dozer lines to put down hot spots that are at risk of potentially jumping to other areas.
Firefighting crews from Pōhakuloa Training Area, Hawaiʻi County, the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and volunteers, along with bulldozer operators and military helicopter crews from Oʻahu are working together to battle the fires.
“We are extremely thankful for the team of teams from throughout our Hawaiʻi Island community that are out here battling these fires, in addition to the Pōhakuloa team and our helicopter crews from Oʻahu,” said training area Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin. “Absolutely an incredible effort across the board. We truly are a team of teams.”