Evacuated Mililani residents awaited the outcome of a brush fire along Kamehameha Highway yesterday.

Mililani homes
escape wild fire

No injuries are reported
as residents help firefighters
battle sections of the blaze

At least a dozen people at a Mililani townhouse complex grabbed garden hoses to help protect their homes from a fast-moving brush fire yesterday afternoon.


"I was looking at it across the highway and I said, 'You gotta watch. It's going to jump over,'" said Harold Villiarimo, who was visiting his sister-in-law at her Lanikuhana Patio Homes townhouse. Minutes later, boosted by a strong gust of wind, the fire leapt over the four-lane Kamehameha Highway, raced up a steep bank covered with grass and haole koa trees, and soon was shooting 40-foot-high flames through the chain link fence surrounding the townhomes, Villiarimo said.

The fire burned to within 40 feet of the homes, prompting police to order an evacuation of the complex on Lanikuhana Place. About 30 Stevenson Kenpo-Karate school students practicing at the Mililani Uka Elementary School were also evacuated from the school gym.

Resident J.B. Webb said he spent about a half-hour on his roof with a hose before a police officer commanded him to come down and evacuate.

"I don't know what time it was, maybe an hour ago," a bare-footed Webb said at 5 p.m. as residents were allowed to return to their homes. "I just know I left my slippers on the roof and I left the water running."

Brush fires have come to the fenceline before, "but never came across," said Webb, who has lived there 17 years.

No serious injuries were reported but six-month-old Nathaniel Bido was checked by emergency medical technicians for smoke inhalation at the scene.

"They said his breathing was normal, but we're going to take him to Tripler (hospital) anyway," his mother, Heather Bido, said.

Benny Bido, the boy's father, also was going to get checked out. After helping firefighters pull hoses and spraying with a hose in dense smoke, "I feel kinda dizzy and have a headache," he said.

"That fire was on top of us," he said. "I was very afraid."

Police closed Kamehameha Highway between Lanikuhana Avenue and Ka Uka Boulevard as 35 firefighters, six engines and a helicopter responded to the fire. The highway was closed shortly after the fire was reported at 3:26 p.m. until about 7 p.m. last night.

Honolulu firefighters battled a brush fire yesterday along Kamehameha Highway that skirted homes near Mililani Uka Elementary.

"The fire had a lot of fuel and created a lot of smoke," said Fire Capt. Emmit Kane. "There was a stiff wind that helped it move very quickly. The first firefighters on the scene made a good stop."

The fire was contained at 4:18 p.m. and no structures were damaged, Kane said. Firefighters were still spraying smoking embers at 6 p.m. and remained on the scene past 7 p.m. He estimated five acres were burned; the cause is unknown.

Nicholas Brizee and John Pall, who live several blocks away, joined in the hose brigade at the townhouses, then sprayed water on the back grounds of Mililani Uka Elementary, while breathing through their shirts.

"This was my elementary school," said Brizee, who now attends the University of Hawaii. "I didn't want it to get burned down."

Another brush fire burned about two acres of hillside behind Kamehameha IV homes on Kamehameha IV Road in Kalihi last night, District Chief Clinton Wong said.

Wong said he's suspicious that this fire, as well as another that burned five acres further mauka two days ago, were malicious. "Nobody lives there," he said, pointing to homes that are undergoing renovations.

Twenty-five firefighters from six companies responded to the Kalihi fire at 5:58 p.m. and had it under control by 6:45 p.m., Wong said.

Two companies battled a third, smaller brushfire at Kaena Point between 2:34 p.m. and 6:39 p.m., Kane said. The cause of all three fires is unknown, he said, "but if there's any witnesses or anything that we find (to suggest a cause), we'll investigate."


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