Highways reopen after brush fires

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today Traffic was backed up Tuesday afternoon on Mamalahoa Highway after a second brush fire broke out following another that was sparked on Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

SOUTH KOHALA — Two major West Hawaii highways were closed Tuesday afternoon as firefighters worked to extinguish two separate brush fires that broke out in South Kohala.

Queen Kaahumanu Highway (Highway 19) reopened about 3:30 p.m. to one lane of traffic after Hawaii Fire Department firefighters contained a brush fire between mile markers 71 and 73.5, near Puako Beach Drive, fire officials said. The blaze, which started on the makai side of the highway, was reported shortly after noon.

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The fire, which crossed the highway prompting an hours-long closure of the South Kohala Coast thoroughfare, burned about 1 acre. One lane remained closed as of press time Tuesday evening.

While crews were working the fire along Queen Kaahumanu Highway, a second brush fire was reported on the makai side of Mamalahoa Highway (Highway 190) on the Waimea side of Waikoloa Road.

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The highway, which was closed shortly after the fire broke out about 2 p.m., reopened to both lanes of travel by about 3:15 p.m. after firefighters contained the blaze. An area of about 100 yards by 25 yards was scorched near mile marker 11.

The causes of the fires are under investigation.

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