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Tuesday evening brush fire update

Kealakekua brush fire, Tuesday, Dec. 29 (Photo courtesty The Mayor's Office)

UPDATED: 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29

(Attached are two aerial photos of the Kealakekua Ranch fire and two topo maps with GPS coordinates indicating the closest point of the Kealakekua fire to residential areas.)

Firefighters continue to battle three brush fires burning in remote areas of mauka Kona, according to Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office Tuesday evening.

The three brush fires currently burning in difficult-to-access terrain near the 4,000-foot level are not threatening lives or property. No injuries or property losses have been reported.

The fires are located at Yee Hop Ranch, Hokukano Ranch and Kealakekua Ranch. Each of the fires has been contained and firefighters are continuing to apply water around the perimeters of the fires.

The Yee Hop and Hokukano ranch fires are expected to be extinguished by Wednesday. The Kealakekua ranch fire could continue to burn for several days.

Fire breaks have been bulldozed around each fire and county firefighters are at each location with heavy equipment, continuing to monitor each fire’s progress.

The altitude of the fires prevents County helicopters from making water drops. The Hokukano fire also is burning below a thick canopy of trees that would prevent enough water from reaching the fire to extinguish it.

“We’re not abandoning these fires,” Kenoi said. “After a thorough assessment and collective analysis, we are employing the most prudent and strategic measures to extinguish these fires with the most practical means possible.”

Kenoi will assess the fires’ progress personally from a county helicopter on Wednesday morning.

The Yee Hop and Kealakekua ranch fires are believed to have been ignited by lightning. The cause of the Hokukano fire is still under investigation.

“We will continue to have resources on scene and deploy what strategies we feel are prudent and most effective to mitigate the fires and minimize any threat to the community,” County Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira said.

Smoke from the fires has caused some discomfort for Kona area residents with respiratory problems. The state Department of Health is monitoring the air quality conditions and had detected some sporadic, elevated levels of particulates in the air at monitoring sites in Kona attributed to both the VOG and recent fires.

Residents are cautioned to use fireworks this weekend with extreme care and consideration for others who may be affected by the additional smoke. Fireworks users should also be aware of the extremely dry conditions caused by drought and be very careful.

Chief Oliveira warned this is just the beginning of what is expected to be a very difficult fire season.

Three ranch land fires continue to spew smoke across South Kona skies Tuesday evening. Here’s the updated status on the fires as of 3 p.m. Tuesday:

*  HOKUKANO RANCH:  Located approximately six miles above Konawaena High School. 1,425 acres affected – 100% contained. Fire is being monitored by ranch personnel, no county Fire Department personnel on scene.

* KEALAKEKUA RANCH: Located approximately seven miles above Kealakekua Ranch Center. 250 acres affected – 50 percent breaks are cut. Three bulldozers, one helicopter, one tanker, and one brush truck on scene.

* HONOMALINO: Located approximately six miles above the 93 mile marker. 30 acres affected – 75 percent contained. Two bulldozers, and one brush truck on scene.

The cause of these fires has not been determined. However, officials believe they may have been started naturally, by lightning for example.

Kealakekua brush fire aerial, Tuesday, Dec. 29 (Photo courtesy of The Mayor's Office)

Kealakekua brush fire aerial, Tuesday, Dec. 29 (Photo courtesy of The Mayor's Office)

2 Responses to “Tuesday evening brush fire update”

  1. Joachim Oster says:

    Thanks for the update! Very much appreciated.

  2. joachim oster says:

    Just have been up there in person and talked to the folks in charge at Gaspars Dairy. (noon Wednesday, 30th Dec)

    Kealakekua fire is contained from all sides. Helicopters putting out remaining hot spots. Perimeter is being controlled by fire spotters, so that fire and glowing amber jump across. But smoke development will continue because there’s a lot of smoldering on the ground going on.

    No volunteers needed at this point. Calm, professional work is being done up there day & night.

    Big mahalo to them for spending their holidays watching over us!


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