LEEWARD BRUSH FIRE SEASON
Flames towered over Honolulu firefighters yesterday after they set a backfire to save the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station. The fire started near Farrington Highway about 11:20 p.m. Wednesday and burned more than 1,000 acres.
Firefighters battle season's biggest blaze
More than 1,000 acres burn before the fire is contained
STIFF WINDS drove a brush fire over more than 1,000 acres above Yokohama Bay in Leeward Oahu yesterday, making it the largest of the season thus far.
The fire threatened an AT&T building but no homes, Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Sigmund Oka said.
With 20 to 25 mph winds behind it, the fire started near Yokohama Bay beach, mauka of Farrington Highway, burned up the mountain, over the ridge and into Makua Valley, Oka said. The fire was "more or less contained" last night, he said, and a fly-over assessment was scheduled for this morning.
Yesterday's blaze comes midway through the brush fire season, which is slightly behind last year's record pace. Last year's brush fire season was marked by numerous intentionally set fires on the Waianae Coast.
In mid-July last year, Honolulu fire officials counted in excess of 500 brush fires, compared with 480 this year and 254 in 2004. Last August, a 2,800-acre brush fire in Nanakuli topped the list of 2005 Oahu brush fires.
"After last year, there was an increase in brush fire awareness and how it affects the community," Oka said. "With that, hopefully we may see a decrease in the number of brush fires this year."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Two firefighters doused the remaining embers at the edge of Farrington Highway near the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station after containing a large brush fire. Fifteen companies under the command of Battalion Chief Roland Harvest responded to the fire, including six helicopters, which continued to douse embers even after the fire was deemed contained.
ALSO YESTERDAY, brush fires scorched more than 250 acres at a Schofield Barracks training range and three acres on a ridge above the Kalihi Valley Homes off Kamehameha IV Road.
In the Yokohama Bay fire, about 95 HFD and federal firefighters and state forestry personnel fought the blaze, which began at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Six helicopters -- two Honolulu Fire Department, two military and two private -- made water drops in areas not easily accessible by ground crews.
Firefighters successfully diverted the fire from an AT&T building along the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station access road, which also served as a fire break.
Fire crews conducted defensive burns before the fire line could reach the AT&T building, the only structure threatened. That neutralized the approaching fire line, causing the fire to burn around the building, Oka said.
The Army said that about 12 to 18 acres of the Makua Military Reservation were affected when the blaze entered the valley around 2:30 p.m. yesterday.
DLNR officials were concerned that the fire was heading toward the Kuaokala Forest Reserve, where native plants grow.
More than 250 acres of a Schofield Barracks training range was scorched by a fire that began on Monday. Donna Klapakis, Army spokeswoman, said the fire, which started at 2 p.m. Monday at a firing range near Kolekole Pass Road, was confined Wednesday. It posed no threat to buildings or people. The Army is investigating the cause of the blaze.
Firefighters also doused a small brush fire yesterday in Kalihi atop the ridge above the Kalihi Valley Homes off Kamehameha IV Road.
Star-Bulletin reporter Gregg Kakesako contributed to this report.