Westside brush fire contained by task force

A brush fire reported about noon Tuesday in Olokele Canyon just mauka of the Waimea swinging bridge was still being extinguished by press time Tuesday evening, though fire department officials said area homes were not in immediate danger.

Kaua’i Fire Department personnel from stations at Waimea and Hanapepe, and as far away as Lihu’e were assisted by Air One from Interisland Helicopters and a Navy helicopter from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, as well as about 15-20 Gay and Robinson workers, according to Battalion Chief Bob Kaden.

The fire started at the bottom of the canyon, spreading down the steep-sided valley, burning several acres.

Air One and PMRF dropped water from Waimea River and from the ocean off Waimea on the fire from beginning about 1 p.m.

Firefighters were confident that they had it under control by about 2:30 p.m., Kaden said. However, due to the remote location of the fire and distance from reserve water in the fire engine, Hanapepe and Waimea crews needed more hose and more water to fight the hot spots.

At about 4:30, Interisland and PMRF were called to continue assistance to fully extinguish the fire, which was slowly spreading up one side of the canyon.

Without help from the Navy until about 5:45 p.m., about 20 men were digging breaks about 40 feet up the hillside and using dirt to try and stop the spread of the fire. Despite their breathing apparatus, firefighters were inhaling smoke and American Medical Response personnel out of Waimea were sent in case anyone needed medical attention. By sunset, Department of Land and Natural Resources forestry workers were being called in to advise the fire crew.

Kaden noted there have been brush fires in the area in the past.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at mailto:kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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