Firefighters doused embers yesterday on the hillside overlooking Paheehee Road in Waianae Valley, containing a brush fire that threatened a dairy.

Brush fire
menaces dairy
farm in Waianae

Honolulu firefighters quickly tamed a brush fire that threatened a Waianae dairy and scorched about 50 acres along Paheehee Ridge yesterday.


Pacific Dairy manager Robi-Ann Dorwelo was worried about hay and grain feed, but not the 1,200 milking cows and 500 additional head of cattle.

"The animals can be moved across the street," she said. "If our feed burns, we're history.

"Hay is very, very flammable," she said. "The dairy ships in all its hay and grain from the mainland and is very expensive for the dairy. Another shipment would have taken 10 days to arrive."

The blaze ate its way down the mountainside nearing the dairy's hay and grain stores, but firefighters and helicopter water drops contained the fire in time.

The wind also shifted, slowing the progress of the flames.

The fire was first reported about 11:12 a.m. yesterday along Paheehee Road on the Ewa side of Paheehee Ridge. By 3 p.m. the Fire Department had the fire contained.

After it crested the ridge, the winds kept the fire from quickly coming down the mountain to the homes, said Kapolei fire Capt. Gary Viela, who was posted on the dairy side of the ridge.

Firefighters fought the brush fire all the way up the steep cliffside on the Paheehee Road side, with some steep areas at least 1,500 feet high. Firefighters hauled hoses up the rugged cliffside, drawing water from tankers below, extending some lines about 2,000 feet.

Firefighters had to contend with many loose, falling rocks because the fire destroyed the root systems of plants that held the soil and rocks in place, said Kapolei Battalion Chief Eric Adams.

Adams said the fire probably was started either maliciously or by a discarded cigarette.

Fire crews worked yesterday to contain a brush fire that started about 11:15 a.m. in Waianae Valley, threatening buildings on Waianae Valley and Paheehee roads.

About 5 p.m. the fire flared on the ridgeline. The Fire Department's Air One and a military helicopter worked to contain the fire by 6:45 p.m.

About six years ago, a fast-moving brush fire consumed much of the grassy hillside along the dairy property and even threatened the owner's house, Dorwelo said. The fire came "close enough to set off all the fire alarms in the house," she said.

That was when the dairy installed a fire hydrant near the feed storage, which the Fire Department used yesterday.

This year, the dairy attempted to create a firebreak by watering a section of the grassy hillside to prevent a repeat of the past fire, evidenced by a green patch of grass.

Dorwelo said in March the dairy had been inundated by rain. Because of a lot of growth of brush, she had predicted a big fire season.

"It was just a matter of time," she said.

More than 200 brush fires have already plagued the Waianae Coast. An intentionally set fire destroyed nearly 3,000 acres in Nanakuli and Lualuaei valleys earlier this month.

Honolulu Fire Department

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