Five rescued in waters off Puako during strong surf, wind conditions

Fire rescuers, including a county helicopter, rescued five individuals this morning — including an adult and three children clinging to an overturned kayak — in waters off Puako Beach Drive in South Kohala.

According to a written Hawaii Fire Department statement, firefighters responded to reports of a kayak and a paddle-boarder in distress at 10:02 a.m. with the first unit, a jet-ski, arriving on scene eight minutes later.

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The jet ski found the four people clinging to the kayak as sustained winds of 25 to 30 mph drove the overturned craft away from the shoreline. Ocean Safety personnel brought them and a paddle-boarder safely ashore, with a county helicopter monitoring the situation from overhead until all were safe.

The National Weather Service has posted a high-wind warning to leeward Kohala areas, which would include Puako and Waikoloa village until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Easterly winds 25-35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph are forecast and winds may blow down trees and power lines and damage roofs. Power outages are also possible. Travel can be difficult, especially in vehicles with a high physical profile, the weather service said.

The Hawaii Fire Department is also reminding the public to be aware of and familiarize themselves with ocean conditions before undertaking any ocean-related activities.

In addition, a high surf advisory is posted for east-facing shores of the Big Island until 6 p.m. Friday. Surf is running from 6 to 8 feet and is expected to build to 7 to 10 feet by Tuesday as strong trade winds near the islands will produce increasingly large and rough surf along east facing shores.

Strong breaking waves, shore break and strong longshore and rip currents will make swimming difficult and dangerous.

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The National Weather Service advises beach-goers, swimmers and surfers to heed all advice given by Ocean Safety officials and to exercise caution.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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