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Kealakekua fire now down to hot spots, mopping up (Jan. 12)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

The Kealakekua fire now is limited to hot spots and smoldering logs and trees, reported Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, there was very little activity within the fire break and operations were limited to wetting down hot spots and mopping up of the area, he said.

Firefighters have been extending hose lines and using hand tools to extinguish those problem areas. Resources or equipment that was on scene today included seven brush trucks, two gamma off road vehicles, three tankers, and more than 40 personnel.

South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford said she was encouraged.

“The fire at Kealakekua Heritage Ranch is still contained at 1,800 acres and holding since last Wednesday when we got reinforcements from Department of Army Pohakuloa Fire Department, Department of Forestry & Wildlife, and the National Park Service, and Bishop Estate,” she said. “That’s doubled the personnel. The fact they are working on hot spots, in my opinion, is really good news.”

Ford said heavier smoke was reported in the area Tuesday morning as crews did limited control burns to exhaust the fuel supply and prevent flare-ups. Smoke fluctuations are to be expected because the fire fighters are going to the inaccessible areas and burning small amounts of vegetation (small enough that they can put out the fire by themselves with the extended hose lines) to prevent the spread of the fire.

“The fire breaks that were cut have been improved by grubbing out root material and designing them to reduce flood potential, future erosion, and protect as many endangered species as possible. Removing the root material prevents root (fire) crawl under the fire breaks,” she said.

“Things are looking better,” Ford said.

UPDATED MEDIA RELEASE (1/12/10 4:15 p.m.)

Good afternoon this is Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira with a brush fire update for Tuesday January 12 at 4:00 p.m.

Fire fighting operations on the Kealakekua mauka brush fire in Kona were continued today. Presently the burning is limited to hot spots and smoldering logs and trees. Very little active fire activity has been reported and operations are limited to wetting down those hot spots and mopping up of the area.

Smoke conditions on the fire scene were reported as moderate however the Kona community may have experienced differing conditions depending upon the winds and weather. Again, the firefighting efforts on the Kealakekua mauka fire continue and crews will remain on scene throughout the night.

I would like to once again thank our partner agencies, the land owner, and the community for the assistance and support we have received.

This is a Civil Defense message. (1/12/10 9 a.m.)

This is a brushfire update for Tuesday morning January 12 at 7 a.m.

Equipment on scene today includes 8 brush trucks, 2 gamma military off road vehicles, and 4 tankers.

Objectives today include extinguishing flare-ups, hotspots, and areas burning within the fire breaks. Again, the fire fighting operations on the Kealakekua Mauka brush fire are continuing and personnel and equipment will be on scene throughout the day. The fire area remains secure and there is no threat to property at this time.

Thank you and have a safe day. This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

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