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Fires burn near Waimea

LIHUE — Three brush fires closed a portion of Waimea Canyon Drive Monday afternoon.

Firefighters hadn’t extinguished the blaze by early evening, but said it was close to being contained. The three separate fires were three miles mauka of Waimea town and closed the road at Panini Loop. The total acreage wasn’t known.

“I came down the road and the thing is just ablaze,” said Nancy Fulkerson, a visitor from New York who was driving down the road after visiting Kokee State Park and saw the first fire engine pull up to the scene. “It was like the whole hillside was on fire.”

She said she thought someone was burning sugar cane after she noticed “a hell of a lot smoke.”

“I thought, ‘That’s not sugar cane, that’s dry grass,’” she said.

No damage or threats to structures were reported, County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said.

TheKauai Fire Department was the initial responding agency but was joined by firefighters from the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Two helicopters, Air 1 and another from DLNR, helped in the fight. A lessee of the state-owned property also provided a bull dozer, a payloader and a water tender to assist first responders.

The brush fires were to the west side of Waimea Canyon Drive, on state property.

Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Parks remained open Monday, while traffic was diverted onto Kokee Road.

A string of brush fires have cropped up across the island recently. Last week, three ignited in Anahola.

Earlier this month, county officials asked for info from the public on the rash across the island after responding to around 40 fires since December.

The fire was close to being contained by Monday evening.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 241-1711.

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