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Kaua‘i firefighters extinguish two eastside brush fires

LIHU‘E — Firefighters extinguished two brush fires that broke out on Kaua‘i’s eastside on Tuesday afternoon, County of Kaua‘i officials said.

“Both of the fires, they almost happened simultaneously,” said Kaua‘i Fire Department (KFD) Chief Michael Gibson in an interview with The Garden Island on Wednesday afternoon. “They were burning fast. So we were called in time, thankfully.”

Firefighters from the Kaiakea fire station were dispatched to the first fire, located at Kealia Road in Anahola, at around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Gibson and a county report.

The fire crews arrived at the scene at approximately 4:35 p.m., where they “discovered a 150-by-50 foot trash fire,” according to the report.

Gibson said the firefighters asked for additional assistance after realizing the extent of the smoke.

“So crews from Kapa‘a fire station, as well as Rescue 3 water tender were en route. Our helicopter was also on standby just in case,” he said.

While those crews were en route to the Anahola fire, they were notified of a second brush fire at approximately 4:40 p.m.

Crews moved to the scene of the second fire, located adjacent to the Kaiakea fire station near St. Catherine Cemetery in Kealia, arriving at the scene shortly after 4:45 p.m.

Gibson described the second fire as a “quick-moving brush fire with some wind behind it.”

“Fortunately, Truck 2 responding from Kapa‘a was in the area and was able to get on that fire really quickly,” he said.

Firefighters extinguished the second fire at around 4:50 p.m., shortly after getting it under control. The scene was cleared at approximately 5:20 p.m., according to the county report.

Gibson, who was not at the scene of the incidents, noted it took more time to contain the first fire in Anahola.

“The original fire took a little bit longer to put out. There was a lot of trash, debris, an abandoned vehicle I believe was back there. So it took a while to mop that one up,” he said.

Firefighters had extinguished and cleared the scene of the first fire shortly after 5:35 p.m., according to the county report.

The causes of both fires are unknown to the county. The first fire is under investigation, and the second fire has been deemed undetermined.

“I don’t know how they started. There are some homeless in the area where there’s a possibility, but we didn’t find how it started,” Gibson said.

No injuries were reported.

The fire incidents occurred roughly one day after the National Weather Service declared a fire weather watch for the leeward areas of the Hawaiian Islands due to gusty winds and low humidity. The warning remains in effect through Thursday afternoon.

The KFD is advising the public to take precautions, including refraining from all outdoor burning and cooking, avoiding mechanized equipment outdoors, not driving vehicles in dry grass, being aware of wind direction, planning an escape route in case of rapid-fire spread and reporting any possible fires.

“If people think they see something or smell something, just call us right away,” Gibson said.

“The earlier we get to the scene the better, like what happened yesterday. We were able to get there quickly before the fires can get too big and the wind get a hold of them. So early response to notification is good. Always best,” he added.

The deadly wildfire that swept through Maui earlier this month — leaving at least 115 people dead and an unknown number of people still missing — has led to an increase in residents’ concern about fire outbreaks on Kaua‘i, according to Gibson.

“We’re getting lots of calls from around the island of people concerned about the dry brush. We’re doing our best to investigate all the areas that people are calling us (about). We’re working with our partners. We’re working with the landowners and they’ve been very receptive,” he said.

“There’s a lot of work to do, and we’re here. People can call us if they have any concerns.”


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-652-0638 or
Source: The Garden Island

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