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Paauilo brush fire burns 1,400 acres

About 1,400 acres of land were burned in a brush fire in Paauilo over the weekend.

The fire, which was reported on Friday, took more than a day to be contained, despite occurring on the typically wet Hamakua Coast.

“It was not a small fire,” said Hawaii Fire Chief Kazuo Todd. “I think our largest fire on record was 14,000-15,000 acres, so this was only about a tenth of that, but it was still not a small fire. It would take about 15 minutes to drive around.”

Although no structures were destroyed during the blaze, Todd said some nearby residences may have sustained light char damage. Despite this, he said nobody evacuated the area.

As many as 66 personnel were battling the fire at once, using 29 vehicles including four fire engines, seven tankers, two helicopters, four bulldozers and other equipment, Todd said.

As of Monday afternoon, Todd said the fire was “pretty much out,” although one member of the Fire Department remained on site to monitor the smoldering remnants of the blaze.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown, Todd said. However, he said the fire likely found purchase because of unusually dry conditions in the area.

“We’re going into a dry period right now,” Todd said. “The meteorologists tell me that we might have drier-than-expected conditions this year. It might be a banner year for dryness.”

2020 was an El Nino year, which brings increased moisture to the state, but can lead to drier than average conditions the following year.

Todd advised residents to take extra caution when dealing with fires over the summer. Residents should make space around their homes free of easily flammable materials such as fallen leaves to prevent fires from easily spreading to their homes.

“Don’t throw your cigarette butts into the grass, don’t burn the weeds in your yard,” Todd said, adding that, in addition to the weekend’s brush fire, the Fire Department responded to a separate 500-square-yard fire on the Hamakua Coast caused by somebody carelessly burning weeds. “Be careful where you park because the muffler can get hot enough to start a fire.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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