Kawaihae, Hawaii – A 600 acre brushfire in the area of Kawaihae Road temporarily closed major highways and forced the evacuation of some residents on Friday afternoon.
It was almost 1 p.m. when the Hawaii County Fire Department first responded to reports of a fire on the 65 Mile Marker of Kawaihae Road. Crews arrived on the scene to find a 50 acre brush fire, blowing North East at 5 to 10 mph.
Soon, 15 units were on the scene working to contain the brush fire, which had grown to engulf over 600 acres, aided by stronger winds and dry leeward conditions.
Initially, one lane of Kawaihae Road was closed, but before too long, the road was closed in both directions from Waiaka Road to Queen Kaahumanu Highway. However, as the fire spread, more road closures were reported by the Hawaii County Civil Defense. Akoni Pule Highway was closed from Queen Kaahumanu Junction to Kohala Ranch Road, and Queen Kaahumanu Road was closed from Hapuna Beach Road to the Kawaihae Road Junction.
Officials evacuated Kawaihae Village, Hapuna Prince, and Transitional Housing. Officials said that the evacuations were for precautionary reasons, and added that no homes have been damaged or lost to fire. Evacuees were provided a refuge at the Waikoloa Elementary School.
In time, Akoni Pule Highway and Queen Kaahumanu Highway were been re-opened. Kawaihae Road was still closed from Waiaka Road to Queen Kaahumanu Highway at the time this story was published.
Fire officials believe the fire may have been caused by a possible spark from a lawnmower.