Kalihi (HI) Wildfire Expected to Be Contained

Allison Schaefers

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

(MCT)

Nov. 29—Firefighters from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife expected by day’s end Sunday to have a wildfire completely contained that has been burning since Thanksgiving and posed a risk to hundreds of homes.

The fire, called the Kahauiki Last Char fire, started Thursday on land below the Honolulu Forest Reserve and by Friday had moved to state lands. Ten to 21 firefighters and support staff had been responding since noon Friday to the fire, which is estimated to have charred about 50 acres.

A team of DOFAW wildland firefighters is expected to be on fire watch today to ensure the fire has been extinguished.

DOFAW Incident Commander Jason Misaki said Sunday that crews were putting water, by hand and by helicopter, on stubborn hot spots still burning or smoking in the ironwood-dominated forest.

The fire sped up the ridge behind the Kam IV Apartments in Kalihi before crossing an access road to the other side, where hundreds of homes at Fort Shafter sat below the fire.

“We are fortunate that there is a road at the top of the ridge, ” Misaki said.

The road provided “relatively easy access ” for equipment and personnel, he said.

Responders set up two portable water tanks, which a contract helicopter and the Honolulu Fire Department Air One chopper used for water drops on hot spots. Light rain also helped tamp down the flames.

Over the past two days, responders concentrated on looking for “smokers ” and “hot spots, ” using hand tools to dig in the soil and placing their hands near the ground to feel for heat.

Firefighters then strung waterlines through the dense forest so that they could douse the trouble areas.

Misaki cautioned that this fire is a reminder of how quickly wildfire can break out and spread even in urban areas. Honolulu can be seen from much of the now-charred ridge.

“Ten years ago it was unusual for us to be fighting fire in November. Now we’re called out pretty much every month, so there’s no longer a set fire season, ” he said.

Misaki said forest vegetation around most of Hawaii is dry, and it will take significant winter rain to reduce the threat.

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