Strong winds have hampered efforts to contain a brush fire in South Kohala that by late Saturday afternoon had burned more than 12,000 acres — and counting.
The fire, which broke out Friday morning off Mana Road, has jumped fire breaks and continues to threaten structures in the area.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered late Saturday afternoon for residents of Pu‘u Kapu Hawaiian Homestead and Waikii Ranch as the fire approached structures. The County opened an evacuation center at Waimea District Park in Waimea, and advised evacuees to bring food, water and sleeping supplies.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, Old Saddle road is closed.
“Wind is very much a factor,” said Hawaii Fire Department Volunteer Captain John Bertsch, noting one front Friday night reached 4 miles long.
HFD reported fire crews from County of Hawaii, including Chopper 1 and Chopper 2, and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife continue to fight the brush fire located mauka of Highway 190 and north of Old Saddle Road. Two Black Hawk helicopters from Pohakuloa Training Area joined efforts to contain the blaze.
According to HFD, water supply is challenging in the area, hampering fire operations.
Civil Defense warns that due to smoke in the area, residents and motorists may experience poor air quality and visibility and remind motorists to drive with caution if in the area as crew are fighting the fire.
Those with existing respiratory illnesses are advised to stay indoors or consider leaving the area.