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Brush fire closes highway

WAILUA – Firefighters continue to extinguish hot spots at the scene of a Wailua brush fire that broke out Friday at around 4:20 a.m. off Kuhio Highway, near Aloha Beach Resort.

Firefighters from the Lihue, Kapaa and Kealia stations battled the blaze until Air 1 could assist at daybreak. The fire was deemed under control at around 7 a.m. There were no injuries or damage to structures reported.

Flames came within feet of the surrounding roadways, forcing officials to close Kuhio Highway and Leho Drive in both directions at 4:25 a.m.

“This morning’s fire came dangerously close to the highway and road closures could not be avoided as public safety is always our highest priority,” stated Fire Chief Robert Westerman. “We appreciate the help of police and state DOT officials who worked diligently to open alternate means of travel until the highway could be reopened. Unfortunately, severe traffic delays could not be avoided and we appreciate the public’s patience and understanding.”

One lane of Kuhio Highway was reopened shortly after 6 a.m. At that time, police also opened the Wailua Cane Haul Access Road to southbound traffic. Wailua Cane Haul Road is an unpaved bypass road that can be opened to motorists during daylight hours only during an emergency.

Police were able to direct northbound traffic onto Leho Drive at approximately 6:45 a.m., allowing Kuhio Highway to be dedicated to southbound motorists. The bypass road was subsequently closed.

The highway was fully reopened with the normal contra-flow pattern shortly after 8 a.m.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

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