Road closures at HVNP to help prevent wildfires

  • Parts of Mauna Loa Road and Hilina Pali Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are closed because of dry conditions. Special to West Hawaii Today

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is taking action to prevent wildfire and has closed parts of Mauna Loa Road and Hilina Pali Road to motorized vehicles effective Wednesday, July 28 until further notice.

Despite ample rainfall in other parts of East Hawaii, Hilina Pali Road has only received about half an inch of rain since June 1. Dry grasses and shrubs along the road exacerbate fire danger. Hilina Pali Road will be closed to motorists from the Kulanaokuaiki Campground to the Hilina Pali Lookout. Similar conditions were observed on Mauna Loa Road, which will also be closed to vehicles from the gate at Kipukapuaulu to the Mauna Loa Lookout at 6,662 feet.

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In addition, open fires will be prohibited at Namakanipaio campground, Kipukapuaulu picnic area, and Kilauea Military Camp until further notice. Propane or gas cooking stoves are permitted.

“Staying safe while protecting the natural and cultural resources of the park is our top priority,” said Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk. “Fire danger indexes in both areas are above the 90th percentile and any ignitions that occur would be difficult to suppress and likely to result in a large fire,” he said.

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Pedestrians and bicyclists may continue to use both roads, and backcountry permit holders will be provided access to trailheads.

On average, human-caused wildfires make up 98% of all wildfire occurrences in Hawaii annually. Many of these wildfires occur in proximity to roadways, communities and recreational areas, posing considerable threats to public safety.

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