January 9, 2010 – Kona, Hawaii
VIDEO by David Corrigan
Hawaii County Fire Chief Darryl Oliveiri discussed the county’s ongoing battle against the Kealakekua area fire that has been burning for days.
Smoke from the blaze has been choking Kona residents, especially when mixed with the vog emissions from Kilauea volcano.
The 1800 acre fire, located seven miles mauka of Kealakekua, is currently contained and surrounded by fire breaks, according to officials. A message from the Hawaii Department of Health said an elevated level of fine particulates in the air (PM2.5) was recorded over a 24-hour period at the DOH air monitoring station located in Kona. The number exceeds the National Ambient Air Quality Standard. DOH said “particulate levels continue to be elevated in Kona and are expected to improve as tradewinds return.”
On Friday afternoon, the chief said that firefighting crews from the State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the National Park Service at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are now assisting the Fire Department, Ranch, and Land owner personnel. Oliveiri said assets on scene include bulldozers, helicopters, tankers, brush trucks and specialized off-road vehicles.
In a steady stream of updates through out the day, civil defense assured county, private, federal, and state resources would be working on extinguishing active burning as well as mopping up hot spots and maintaining a secure perimeter. The agency also warned that smoke will likely continue to impact the Kona area, but added, “it is hoped that with additional fire fighting assets on scene it is now possible that conditions should improve. Crews will remain on scene on a 24/7 basis until the fire is no longer a threat.”
The DOH released this additional info:
A list of exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards can be viewed at the Clean Air Branch website: http://hawaii.gov/health/environmental/air/cab. Elevated levels of PM2.5 can cause breathing problems in individuals, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. If you have respiratory conditions and live or work in an area being impacted by smoke or vog, consider taking precautionary measures.
The DOH offers the following guidelines: Stay indoors and close your windows and doors. Check that your air conditioner or air purifier is working properly, change filters if necessary. If you take medication, make sure you have an adequate supply and use them as directed by your physician. Contact your physician if you need more medication and get clear instructions of what to do if your lung condition suddenly worsens. Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Avoid people who have colds and other lung infections and wash your hands thoroughly. Get plenty of rest and limit physical exertion. Drink plenty of fluids to loosen mucus. Warm beverages seem to work best. Contact your physician as soon as any respiratory problem develops. If possible leave the affected area. While these suggestions are intended primarily for persons with respiratory or chronic lung disease, they are also useful for healthy persons during air pollution episodes such as particulates dust, brush fires, firework smoke, or volcanic haze.
For further information regarding air quality contact the Clean Air Branch at 586-4200. If you wish to obtain additional information on respiratory health contact the American Lung Association of Hawai’i at 537-5966 or visit their website at http://www.ala-hawaii.org.