Saturday, May 21, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Department of Land and Natural Resources personnel spent a second day Tuesday responding to a wildfire burning on the Hikimoe Ridge in the Pu‘u Ka Pele Forest Reserve on Kaua‘i.
As of Tuesday, the fire grew to an estimated 400 acres, according to DLNR Public Information Specialist Deborah Ward. Efforts continued until nightfall and were set to resume today at daybreak.
Strong winds of 20 to 25 mph buffeted the area, causing several spot fires one mile west of the main flank and on the north side of the main fire line. Ward said spot fires exemplify extreme fire behavior and occur when hot embers are tossed across the fire line by strong winds. In that case, embers can land and start new fires fairly far away depending on weather conditions.
The fire is located in the vicinity of Hikimoe Ridge, one mile west of Waimea Canyon State Park and a mile north of Pu‘u Lua Reservoir. There is no current threat to the park or to any structures.
As a precaution, the roads to Hunting Unit A will be closed to the public until further notice. Public access remains open to Pu‘u Lua Reservoir for rainbow trout fishing. The gate at Pu‘u Lua may be closed if extreme fire conditions require closure to protect the public.
The fire is burning in a eucalyptus tree plantation planted in the 1970s. Some of the trees are 85 to 120 feet tall. Weather conditions remain hot and dry with low humidity and strong easterly winds which are causing extreme fire behavior — meaning it burns harder, faster and more unpredictably, Ward explained in a press release.
“Summer weather will lead to more dry conditions, so we are asking the public to be fire-smart and help prevent wildfires by not making ground fires and being alert to report smoke or suspicious behavior in wildland settings,” said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila Jr.
There are 22 DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) Kaua‘i personnel responding to the fire, assisted by a brush engine from Kaua‘i Fire Department, five firefighters and two County Public Works personnel with a water tender. An additional 22 DOFAW fire fighters from O‘ahu and Maui will join the fire line today.
A DLNR enforcement officer also is providing security for public safety.
Fire crews are working to lay hoses and use hand tools to prevent the spread of the fire to the west and makai sections of the forest reserve in very steep terrain.
Two contract hire helicopters plus the Kaua‘i Fire Department’s Air-1 helicopter are providing water drops. DOFAW is also planning to hire two additional helicopters.
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