Police seeking info on suspicious vehicle seen near brush fire

  • Traffic was backed up Tuesday afternoon on Mamalahoa Highway after a second brush fire broke out following another that was sparked on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today

KAILUA-KONA — Police are asking for the public’s help identifying a suspicious vehicle seen leaving the area of a brush fire reported last week in South Kohala.

Hawaii Police Department South Kohala Lt. Robert P. Pauole said an older model white-colored sedan was seen leaving the area where a brush fire broke out on Friday night in Kawaihae. Police said the vehicle was seen in the area of mile marker 64 around the time a brush fire was reported at 9:55 p.m.

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It’s not yet known if fires that broke out Tuesday afternoon in South Kohala are related to the blaze, Pauole said. Those fires are being investigated by the department as arson.

“With all these different fires, we’re just investigating and seeing if they connected in some way,” he said.

The first Tuesday fire, reported shortly after noon, scorched about an acre on both sides of Queen Kaahumanu Highway between mile markers 71 and 73.5 before firefighters were able to get the upper hand. It closed both lanes of the highway for several hours before one lane was reopened allowing for traffic to be contraflowed. The road fully reopened about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the fire continued to smolder, Hawaii Fire Department officials said. Firefighters worked throughout the day dousing hot spots and flare ups.

The second fire, which was reported about 2 p.m. while crews were battling the fire near Puako, burned an area of about 100 yards by 25 yards before firefighters contained it. The highway was closed to motorists for a period, but reopened about 3:15 p.m. HFD officials said crews were monitoring the fire and would respond to douse any hot spots should they arise.

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The Hawaii Fire Department’s Kona Fire Prevention Bureau, which investigates fires on the west side, was unable to be reached Wednesday for information on whether the cause of the fires had been determined.

Anyone with information about the vehicle seen near the Kawaihae Road fire on Friday, or any other recent brush fires in the South Kohala, are asked to contact Officer Severo Ines at the Waimea Police Station, 887-3080.

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