28 fire-stranded hikers rescued

Hanakapi‘ai blaze quadruples in size overnight

by Nathan Eagle – THE GARDEN ISLAND

NA PALI COAST — State and county emergency personnel on Sunday rescued some 28 hikers stranded on a remote North Shore beach after a fire ripped across the Kalalau Trail, county spokeswoman Mary Daubert said yesterday.

The blaze had scorched some 11 acres before growing overnight to encompass 40 to 50 acres, all on the east side of Hanakapi‘ai Stream, DLNR spokeswoman Debbie Ward said yesterday.

No injuries have been reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials said.

The DLNR has 11 personnel on the fire and the Kaua‘i Fire Department is assisting with its Waverunner and Zodiac to help transport stranded individuals to Ke‘e Beach where Kuhio Highway ends, Ward said.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility was called to provide aerial support around 10:45 a.m. yesterday.

Its contracted helicopter company, Croman, sent one helicopter to help fight the fire for about two hours, PMRF Public Affairs Officer Tom Clements said.

The Sikorsky aircraft dropped 15 to 20 500-gallon buckets of water on the blaze, he said.

The DLNR’s Division of State Parks closed the Kalalau Trail and posted “Trail Closed Due to Hazardous Condition” signs early yesterday morning.

Arriving hikers are being notified of the closure by a DOCARE officer at the trailhead, Ward said.

There was a Division of Forestry and Wildlife staff person on the Kalalau side of the trail yesterday to advise hikers they cannot pass the section of the trail where the fire burned.

DLNR will secure the trail until fire officials deem it is safe for people to pass through the burned area, Ward said.

The world-renowned Kalalau Trail, also called Na Pali Coast Trail, stretches 11 miles, skirting rugged cliffs and lush valleys.

Hanakapi‘ai Beach, accessible only by trail or by sea, is two miles from the trailhead at Ke‘e Beach.

The blaze allegedly started Saturday night from a campfire, but officials have not confirmed those reports.

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