South Kohala wildland fire 95% contained

  • A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter picks up water from a tank along Old Saddle Road to douse hotspots on the southern flank of the 40,000-plus-acre blaze Tuesday morning. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

Firefighters Wednesday spent a sixth day working to extinguish a 40,000-plus-acre wildland fire in South Kohala.

State, county, federal and private assets continue to douse flareups and hotspots within the fire’s burn area spanning from above Mana Road to Puukapu, Waikii Ranch and above Waikoloa Village. As Wednesday afternoon the fire was listed at 95% contained with most of the remaining activity located along Highway 190 and on the southern flank of the fire on Maunakea, said Hawaii Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd.

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Meanwhile Wednesday, Gov. David Ige signed an emergency declaration for the county to respond to the wildfire.

The emergency declaration allows the governor to activate the Major Disaster Fund and spend state funds as appropriated to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents and visitors in the County of Hawaii. The disaster emergency relief period is effective through Oct. 1.

Hundreds of firefighters worked the blaze after it broke out around 11 a.m. Friday in ranch land off Mana Road. Initial reports indicate the fire may have been sparked during a pipe repair, however, the cause is still under investigation.

Despite firefighters’ efforts battling the flames amid high winds with gusts topping 40 mph, two homes were destroyed in the Department of Hawaiian Homelands Puukapu Subdivision in Waimea overnight Saturday into Sunday.

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The blaze also forced an hours-long evacuation of thousands of residents and visitors lodging in Waikoloa Village Sunday afternoon after flames crossed Highway 190, also known as Mamalahoa Highway.

According to Hawaii County, 140 firefighters, 70 National Guardsman, 52 fire apparatus, nine helicopters, 27 bulldozers and 10 private companies took part in battling the fire.

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