Brush fire burns on the slopes of Maunakea

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A brush fire continues to burn off of Daniel K. Inouye Highway Wednesday near near the Mauna Kea Access Road.

  • Photo courtesy of POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA A Hawaii County helicopter prepares to lift off to conduct water drops Wednesday on the slopes of Maunakea.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A brush fire burns Wednesday off Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, near Maunakea Access Road.

County, state and federal assets continue to battle a brush fire burning on the slopes of Maunakea.

The fire, which broke out about 10 a.m. Tuesday in the northeastern corner of Pohakuloa Training Area, had burned 110 acres of state and U.S. Army land as of Wednesday afternoon. It’s burning on the slopes of Maunakea, about 2 miles north of Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, and on the Kona side of Maunakea Access Road, said PTA spokesman Mike Donnelly.

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“In the last 24 hours, these guys have done a remarkable job containing this fire given the brutal terrain that they’re in,” Donnelly said after observing the fire from a helicopter.

The blaze was about 70 percent contained Wednesday afternoon.

Because of the blaze’s location, aerial assets are playing the main role in dousing the flames, with two Hawaii County helicopters and one U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk performing water drops, he said. The Black Hawk has a 300-gallon capacity while the county helicopters can lift 90 gallons.

“They’re just doing routine shifts dropping, trying to get in front of it,” Donnelly said.

Also involved are firefighters from PTA, the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Hawaii Fire Department. Two bulldozers from the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands have been cutting fire breaks.

The fire continues to be monitored 24/7, though aerial operations cease at sunset, Donnelly said. Assets also are stationed at Maunakea Access Road as a precautionary measure.

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No road closures were in effect as of Wednesday afternoon.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.

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