by David Corrigan & Stephanie Salazar
MAUNA KEA, Hawaii: Normalcy returned to Saddle Road in time for the weekend, after a fast moving brush fire was contained by a team of fire personnel.
The “mop-up” phase of fire operation began on Thursday, after the blaze was 100% contained. Crews were busy monitoring for hot spots and underground smoldering, dousing problem areas on this dry and windy area on the kona side of the corss island road.
Mop-up operations were anticipated to continue over the weekend.
The final tally for burned acreage stood at approximately 1,153 acres, with no injuries to personnel and no structures damaged.
The wildfire broke out on the Pohakuloa Training Area’s Keamuku Maneuver Area on Tuesday, October 4th.
Hawaii County Civil Defense described the area as being between the Kilohana Girl Scout Camp and Waikii Ranch.
The decision was quickly made to close Saddle Road from the Highway 190 Junction on the Kona side of the Big Island through the 8 mile marker near Kaumana City in Hilo.
News videographer Daryl Lee obtained this footage of the fire spreading northeast, over the distant grassy hills. A wide angle view shows how the fire looked from a distance.
The U.S. Army says three helicopters equipped with water buckets are being used to battle the blaze; 1 Evergreen, and 2 Hawaii County along with equipment and crews from the PTA Fire Department, and the state’s Division of Forestry.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. No Army training activity was taking place in the KMA, according to Army officials.
The National Weather Service had issued a Red Flag Warning for Kona, Ka‘u and Kohala through 6 p.m. today, meaning that low humidity and strong winds have increased the threat of wildfires.
It was a little over a year ago when a fire ripped through 1,300 acres in the vicinity of the Mauna Kea State Recreation Area, east of the main gate of PTA. The fire took several days to contain and extinguish. The 2010 fire was probably best known for this incredible “fire tornado” video, filed by filmed by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.