Firefighters battle 200-acre brush fire near HCC — Palamanui

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KAILUA-KONA — A wind-driven bush fire consumed at least 200 acres near Hawaii Community College — Palamanui on Wednesday.

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KAILUA-KONA — A wind-driven bush fire consumed at least 200 acres near Hawaii Community College — Palamanui on Wednesday.

The fire, which broke out about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, was located mauka of Kamanu Street, which connects the campus to Kaiminani Drive. The south and southeasterly winds pushed it up toward the forests and homes on the mountain.

No evacuations were ordered, however, some evacuated voluntarily because of the smoke, including the college, said special operation Chief Gerald Kosaki of the Hawaii Fire Department.

As of 6:15 p.m. there were no homes endangered, Kosaki said.

The road served as a firebreak, while water drops from helicopters would slow the fire and a firebreak carved by bulldozers was designed to stop it.

The college advised the public to avoid the area, and to not try to access the campus during the incident, said Hawaii Community College External Affairs Coordinator Thatcher Moats.

“We don’t want people coming in,” he said.

There were no classes in session at the time, Kosaki said.

The blaze was roughly arrowhead-shaped, with the point headed toward the mauka forested area. The sides expanded slowly, often burning against the wind. With the plan reliant on the bulldozers and helicopters, the firefighters were largely limited to monitoring the blaze.

The fire was almost exclusively fed by fountaingrass, some of which effectively cylinders of vegetation four feet tall and four feet across. The fire could be seen jumping from bush to bush as it advanced.

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Firefighters would be active throughout the night watching for hot spots and cutting firebreaks. As firefighters were controlling the blaze, they had not investigated the cause as of press time Wednesday.

Associate editor Chelsea Jensen contributed to this story.

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