AP

Firefighters continue battling large Hawaii wildfire

Aug 11, 2022, 6:19 PM | Updated: Aug 12, 2022, 7:17 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — A wildfire on Hawaii’s Big Island grew overnight as firefighters worked to contain the large blaze that is burning in a rural area between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes.

No homes were at risk, but the flames came within miles of a critical highway Friday. The area where the fire is burning is dominated by shrubs and grasslands that are parched from persistent drought in the region.

“The last two days the fire was mostly burning in invasive fountain grass,” said Steve Bergfeld, the Hawaii Island branch manager for the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. “Unfortunately, the fire has moved into some dryland forest which has native ohi?a lehua (trees), and we are trying to keep flames away from this sensitive area.”

Gusty winds were making it challenging to contain the blaze that started in the western reaches of the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area, which is above Waikoloa Village, a town of about 7,000 people.

The fire had burned more than 25 square miles (66 square kilometers) as of Friday, officials said. Earlier in the day the state had estimated the fire had burned more than 39 square miles (101 square kilometers), but reduced that number after formal aerial mapping Friday afternoon. They estimated the fire had burned about 15 square miles as of Thursday.

Crews were using seven bulldozers to build fire lines around the blaze and five military helicopters were dropping thousands of gallons of water on the hottest part of the fire Friday, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Flames were largely contained to the military training area land in a region bounded by Saddle Road, Highway 190 and an 1859 lava flow.

Fire managers are hoping the field of hardened lava rock will act as a natural fire break if it reaches that point, the department said.

Last year the same region of the Big Island saw the state’s largest-ever wildfire, a blaze that destroyed several homes and threatened thousands more. It burned more than 70 square miles (181 square kilometers) on the slopes of Mauna Kea, the state’s tallest mountain.

Like many islands in the Pacific, Hawaii’s dry seasons are getting more extreme with climate change. Large wildfires highlight the dangers of climate-related heat and drought for many communities throughout the U.S. and other hotspots around the world. But experts say fires on typically wet, tropical islands in the Pacific are also on the rise.

State land officials said the fire actually began several weeks ago and smoldered until strong winds this week reinvigorated the flames. Strong winds have been recorded across the area, some in excess of 30 mph (48 kph).

A spokesperson for the Army told The Associated Press that while there is active military training in the area, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“There are units up there training, I can’t confirm or deny if live fire was taking place,” said Michael O. Donnelly, chief of external communications for the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii. “It’s business as usual, but the exact cause we don’t know.”

___

AP journalist Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant to serve indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

14 hours ago

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

2 days ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

2 days ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

3 days ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

4 days ago

Record-setting rally for U.S. stocks reflects inflation slowing down...

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares advance after another round of Wall St records

The S&P 500 jumped 1.2% to top its prior high set a month and a half ago. This move reflects a record-setting rally for U.S. stocks.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Firefighters continue battling large Hawaii wildfire