KAILUA-KONA — Poor firefighting conditions are expected to persist through the next several days as crews work to suppress a brush fire that has scorched 13,000 acres along Highway 190.
The blaze ignited Wednesday at mile marker 7. Since then, it has grown rapidly with the assistance of gusty winds, allowing flames to jump the highway. As of Friday afternoon, the fire was 25 percent contained.
“Strong and gusty winds are making this a very difficult fire to contain,” according to a press release Friday from the Hawaii Fire Department. “The public should also be aware that these strong winds are generating large dust clouds.”
Derek Wroe, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said peak wind gusts came in at 55 mph at the Waikoloa fire station. He added winds were consistently gusting at 40-50 mph through Friday afternoon.
Wroe said winds will be a little weaker today, but breezy dry weather is expected to continue for several days.
Several state and county resources were directed to battle the blaze, which is burning south of Waikoloa Road and west of the Highway 190.
“Highway 190 is threatened in multiple locations and crews are actively working to prevent the fire from jumping the highway,” the press release said.
There also is an area of active burning near the 3.5-mile marker that is approximately a half-mile from Waikoloa Road. Helicopters were actively dropping water in that area Friday.
“Much of the fire is inaccessible to ground units and we are working to contain these areas with fire breaks utilizing five dozers and four helicopters, to include two military Black Hawk aircraft,” the release states.
Manpower has reached 108, with assistance coming from HFD volunteer stations in Waimea, North and South Kohala and Waikoloa. Other agencies include the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Department of Transportation, county Public Works and Highway Division, Isemoto Contracting and Parker Ranch.
Firefighters also are receiving assistance from military at Pohakuloa Training Area.
The fire also impacted some public areas of the Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve, resulting in a temporary closure as a safety precaution, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife announced Friday. The areas will remain closed until the fire is contained, and safe public access is restored.
Road closures also remain in place. Highway 190 remains closed from Kaiminani Drive to Waikoloa Road. However, Highway 190 between Kaiminani Drive and Puu Lani Ranch is open to local traffic only.
Waikoloa Road was opened to traffic about 6:30 p.m. Motorists will have to take a left turn onto Highway 190 as it remains closed south of Waikoloa Road.
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