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Ka‘u brush fire burns 3,500 acres

Firefighters battling a brush fire that scorched thousands of acres in Ka‘u this weekend managed to save dozens of horses and cattle from the flames.

As of Sunday evening, the fire had consumed at least 3,500 acres — or 5.4 square miles — between the South Point (Ka Lae) and Green Sands Beach (Papakolea) areas, said East Hawaii Battalion Chief Matthias Kusch, noting the estimate of acreage burned was “conservative.”

“It is a vast fire. It’s spread over several miles in very remote area with difficult terrain, hills and drop offs,” he said. The fire, which broke out Saturday, burned to the back of Green Sands Beach.

The blaze was listed at about 90% contained and 90% under control around 5 p.m. with the only open edge toward the ocean. A total of 39 volunteer and professional firefighters were involved in the battle, in addition to two helicopters and bulldozers.

Kusch said firefighters were able to save two outbuilding structures and rescued dozens of livestock overnight. Between 12 and 15 cattle and 20 horses were saved when firefighters cut paddocks.

On Sunday afternoon, ranchers were working to round up the loose cattle as the horses continued to roam like in a movie, he said.

South Point Road remained closed as of press-time. Access was being permitted to residents and ranchers.

Fire crews were to remain on scene throughout the night to douse any hot spots or flareups.

“All together, they worked to kind of put a stop to it. Let’s just hope it holds,” Kusch said. “It’s never a done deal — there’s still a few smokers here and there.”

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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