Firefighters working to extinguish Ka‘u blaze

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Firefighters on Tuesday continued to battle a brush fire that consumed more than a dozen acres, as well as a structure, Monday in Ka‘u.

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Firefighters on Tuesday continued to battle a brush fire that consumed more than a dozen acres, as well as a structure, Monday in Ka‘u.

The fire, which broke out around 10:30 a.m. Monday, burned about 15 acres within the Green Sands subdivision. The burn area, as of Tuesday afternoon, was located on both sides of Kaalualu Road, between Mark Twain and Pele streets, said Hawaii County Fire Department Assistant Chief Gantry Andrade. Nearly two dozen firefighters spent the day dousing hot spots and flare-ups, he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was listed as 80 percent contained with no active burning, Andrade said, adding that weather conditions were favorable for firefighting with overcast skies and winds no more than 10 mph. Firefighters were to be positioned at the fire throughout the night to quash any flare-ups.

One structure, an “unpermitted home,” was destroyed by the fire on Monday, said Andrade. Several tents and abandoned vehicles may have also been consumed by the blaze. However, no injuries were reported.

Andrade said officials Tuesday determined the fire originated from a nearby residence. He said someone was burning rubbish in a 55-gallon drum and the fire apparently got away from the resident.

Residents were allowed to return Monday evening after being advised to evacuate the subdivision because of high winds and heavy smoke conditions. The American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Naalehu Community Center for those displaced.

Barney Sheffield, Hawaii disaster coordinator, said the shelter closed Tuesday and no residents spent the night.

A team of American Red Cross volunteers visited the area Tuesday to assess leads but did not find anything of concern, he said.

Highway 11 remained open Tuesday, however, motorists are advised to be cautious in the area because water tankers must use hydrants along the highway to supply firefighting efforts off Kaalualu Road.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Tuesday that the county is working to get non-potable water for sanitation purposes to several households whose water lines were impacted by the fire.

At the top of Kaalualu Road near the subdivision there were about 14 water meters on the roadside impacted by the fire, Oliveira said, and the Hawaii County Water Department estimates 24 residents could have been effected by their destruction.

He expects 14 to 24 households in all may have been impacted.

Oliveira said the county is also working with a private water hauler to get potable water closer to the area and that residents in need may use the Waiohinu water spigots, which are located less than a few miles away.

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Oliveira said Tuesday the county will be supporting the residents as best they can, but a lot of the responsibility to repair the water meters will fall upon the individual home owners.

Both Mark Twain and Pele streets remain closed to motorists because of fire equipment and personnel on the roadway.

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