DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Military helicopters dropped water on fire hotspots on Kaena Point, Waialua and around Dillingham Field. Looking down from a copter, a water bucket released water at Kaena Point.
Pesky fire gives way
After three days the blaze was 65 percent contained but had reached Schofield
STORY SUMMARY »
Firefighters battling a stubborn wildfire that had been burning in Waialua since Sunday got a little help from the weather yesterday with lighter winds and high humidity.
North Shore Fires
» The brush fire in Waialua that began Sunday had consumed about 6,700 acres as of yesterday.
» It was about 65 percent contained last night.
» Yesterday's firefighting force in Waialua included nine fire engines, four water tender trucks, two brush trucks, six helicopters and more than 90 firefighters. They were from the Honolulu Fire Department, the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Federal Fire Agency.
» A separate fire started in Kaena Point State Park on Tuesday night. HFD and the Federal Fire Agency responded to contain this fire with seven companies and air support from six helicopters from the nearby Waialua fire. About 300 acres burned here.
By sundown, fire officials said the fire was 65 percent contained. But the number of acres it had burned climbed to 6,700, including 800 in Schofield Barracks.
Federal firefighters said they extinguished the portion of the fire that moved along the Waianae Mountain Range into the Army installation.
Firefighters said they also had mostly contained a smaller, separate fire that started in the Kaena Point State Park on Tuesday night. That fire burned about 300 acres.
The Waialua wildfire had moved far enough away from Kaukonahua Road yesterday that police opened the portion of the roadway west of Wilikina Drive.
Helicopters of the Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Police Department as well as private aircraft contracted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources focused their water drops yesterday on hard-to-reach gullies, small valleys and mountain slopes in the Mokuleia Forest Reserve.
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Firefighters got the upper hand in battling a wildfire that has been burning in Waialua since Sunday.
By sundown yesterday, fire officials said the fire was 65 percent contained with a little help from the weather yesterday -- lighter winds and high humidity. But the number of acres it had burned climbed to 6,700.
A separate fire burned about 300 acres in the Kaena Point State Park Preserve, wiping out the entire planting of two endangered native plants, Abutilon menziesii, known as kooloaula, and Sesbania tomentosa, known as ohai, the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife said. That fire began Tuesday night and was contained yesterday.
At Waialua, Mayor Mufi Hannemann visited Honolulu firefighters and other city employees who have been battling the wildfire for three days. He wanted to get an update on their efforts and assess some of the damage the fire caused.
Hannemann said he is happy that the fire caused no deaths or injuries and proud that firefighters prevented damage to homes and structures. But he said he has received calls from farmers and ranchers who experienced loss and damage to equipment and crops, and wanted to see the damage firsthand.
He visited Al Santoro's 7-acre farm in Poamoho Estate, about a half-mile from where the Honolulu Fire and Police departments had set up their mobile command stations.
"The fire is under control, but it's really devastated a lot of the farmers and ranchers here," Santoro said, "Half of our banana crop is fried, we lost several thousand feet of irrigation line, half our papaya field."
On Sunday, firefighters were at Santoro's home protecting it from the fire when it crept up the side of Poamoho Gulch 30 feet away.
Santoro said his Poamoho Organic Produce is the largest certified organic operation on Oahu. He estimated the fire caused $5,000 in damage to his equipment and crops, but considered that insignificant compared with the losses experienced by other farmers and ranchers.
He is advocating putting more acreage into cultivation to cut down on the amount of fallow grasslands that spread wildfires.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tom and Dana Ritchie ventured onto a burned hillside along Kaukonahua Road that looked across a scorched gulch above Waialua Ranch yesterday afternoon following the partial containment of a brush fire that had burned for three days and consumed 6,700 acres.
Police in Waianae reported skies were clear and mountains were visible, unlike Tuesday when they were totally obscured by smoke from the Waialua wildfire.
"I can breathe now," said Kyong Talbott, who works at Makaha Valley Country Club.
The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center reported treating 20 patients with smoke-related respiratory problems Tuesday.
Makaha Elementary and Waianae High schools were to reopen today after being closed yesterday because of smoke from the fire.
Honolulu police opened most of Kaukonahua Road to traffic yesterday. They kept the portion between the Wilikina Drive and Kamananui Road intersections closed, giving utility companies a chance to assess damage to their lines and make repairs.
There were seven helicopters in the air yesterday fighting the Waialua wildfire and a separate brush fire at Kaena Point State Park.
In addition to the helicopters, there were 80 firefighters from HFD and 12 from the Department of Land and Natural Resources standing by near threatened structures, moving hose lines as close to leading edges as they could reach and putting out hot spots in burned-out areas, said Capt. Terry Seelig, HFD spokesman.
The Salvation Army was asked to help feed more than 50 firefighters and delivered 140 meals yesterday to the firefighters' command center in Mokuleia. More food supplies were being prepared for firefighters in Waianae, the Salvation Army said.
Fire officials estimate the Waialua wildfire has so far burned 6,700 acres, including 800 on small-arms practice ranges in the northern section of Schofield Barracks.
The fire at Schofield was extinguished at about noon yesterday, but federal firefighters continued to mop up hot spots and monitor the area for flare-ups, said John Reese, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii. The Army conducted a prescribed burn last week, which helped with this week's fire. "The fire moved into the burn area and burned itself out," Reese said.