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Kawaihae brushfire shuts down roads, threatens residents

UPDATED VIDEO (3/13/10)

A brushfire fueled by dry conditions and strong winds burns in Kawaihae.

The brushfire as seen from Puako area.

Photography by Jen Rabalais | Special to Hawaii 24/7

UPDATED (3/12/10, 11:15 p.m)

Civil Defense reports Kawaihae Road is now open.

Authorities believe a spark from a lawn mower may have caused the fire.

UPDATED (3/12/10, 6:42 p.m.)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

At least 40 firefighting personnel are on the scene of a brushfire off Kawaihae Road. Although initially a 50-acre fire, the blaze now has consumed more than 600 acre, the county Fire Department reported.

Six engines, a tanker, three medic units, both county helicopters and support from several private companies and landowners, in addition to a tanker, brush truck from Pohakuloa Training Area are fighting the fire.

The choppers are continuing water drops to slow the fire and the bulldozers are working to cut a fire break around the fire.

No reports of injury or structures damaged.

Evacuated residents and visitors from Kawaihae Village, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, and Kawaihae Transitional Housing are being directed to shelter at Waikoloa Elementary School. The evacuations are precautionary.

Wind gusts were reported up to 40 mph and blowing toward the ocean.

UPDATED (3/12/10 5:58: p.m.)

Hawaii County Civil Defense reports that Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Akoni Pule Highway are now open to traffic. Kawaihae Road is still closed from Waiaka Road to Queen Kaahumanu Highway juction due to the brushfire.

Compiled from media releases (3/12/10 5:30 p.m.)

Windy conditions are feeding a brushfire in Kawaihae. The blaze, which started about 1 p.m. Friday, March 12, has scorched 600 acres.

Authorities have closed: Kawaihae Road from Waiaka Road to Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Akoni Pule Highway from Queen Kaahumanu junction to Kohala Ranch Road, Queen Kaahumanu Highway from Hapuna Beach Road to the Kawaihae Road junction.

Evacuations are under way in Kawaihae Village and Kawaihae Transition Homes.

Civil Defense has opened Waikoloa Elementary School as a shelter.

The Kawaihae brushfire as seen from Puako Road Friday afternoon. Photography by Laura Kinoshita | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Photo by Laura Kinoshita | Special to Hawaii 24/7

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