Brush, truck fires keep KPD busy

PUHI — About four acres of vegetation were burned in a brush fire directly across Kaua‘i Nursery and Landscaping Tuesday about 11:30 a.m. The fire was extinguished by about 2 p.m.

At about 11:30, a thin trail of brownish smoke was seen rising from an area close to Kaumuali‘i Highway. The fire was reported to the Kaua‘i Fire Department by Kauai Nursery and Landscaping’s secretary (Ely Reyes), who was told the word by grounds laborers. First on scene was an engine crew from Station 3 in Lihu‘e, who made their way through the haole koa, sugar cane and invasive trees and weeds to extinguish the fire before it consumed more land. They also unlocked an unused cane haul road to access the site.

As the fire crew arrived on scene, at about 11:35, easterly winds had spread the flames at least 200 yards farther inland, and personnel from Kalaheo were dispatched to assist in extinguishing the fire.

Off-duty firefighter Cy Akaji, who works out of Kalaheo, said he was passing by when he saw the fire. He parked his lifted Chevy truck at the side of Kaumuali‘i Highway, using it as a platform for two other firefighters to aim a line into the fire over the haole koa trees.

During the fire, police officers rerouted traffic for about an hour using an access road at the old Brewer Environmental Industries site. Kauai Nursery and Landscaping also sent their water truck across the street to assist in the efforts. The nearest hydrant is located on Anonui Street, where firefighters had to return several times to refill their truck tanks with water. They also used a chemical foam from hoses and the water cannon atop Engine 3.

Air One (Inter-Island Helicopters) was called to drop water at about 12:20 p.m. Battalion Chief Greg Morishige said that the helicopter came in but upon their arrival it was discovered that the bucket was inoperable. Control wires from inside the aircraft were tangled, said Inter-Island Helicopters general manager Dennis Imamura. Morishige said ground crews from Lihu‘e and Kalaheo stations had the fire under control, and it was put down by about 2 p.m.

It is not known at this time what caused the fire, though during the summer months, area vegetation can get very dry and susceptible to catching fire.

Another blaze was reported Tuesday, this time a Ford truck that caught fire with its driver inside while she was driving down Rice Street in Lihu‘e, just past Lihu‘e Chevron. She told police that as she saw the trail of fire she pulled her vehicle off the main roadway into Wa‘a Road and got out of the truck.

Fire personnel from the Lihu‘e station responded to the scene at about 2:05 p.m. The fire was put out after about 15 minutes of crouching on the road and pointing their hoses at the undercarriage of the truck. The truck’s windows were broken open and fire personnel flooded the engine with their extinguishing agent.

There were no injuries reported, and the fire was extinguished at about 2:20 p.m. The fire was so stubborn because of the large amount of fuel leaking onto the pavement, a firefighter said.

Tuesday afternoon yet another fire was reported. This fire was a minor one in Waipouli set off in front of The Shell Factory and put out “in a flash” by a nearby KPD patrol officer who used an in-vehicle fire extinguisher, store staff said Tuesday afternoon.

At about 3:40 p.m. someone in the store saw a few flames rising from a can next to a stump of an old electrical pole along Kuhio Highway. The small fire may have been started by a cigarette butt flung from a passing motorist, the worker guessed.

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

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