(BIVN) – Ongoing bagasse fires that are ongoing throughout the Kaʻū area have prompted the closure of all public lands north of the estuary at Honuʻapo, Hawaiʻi County officials announced on Thursday.
From the Department of Parks and Recreation:
The Department of Parks and Recreation announces the closure of all public lands north of the estuary at Honuʻapo in Kaʻū effective immediately. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.
The closure is required to protect the public’s safety and welfare related to the bagasse fires that are ongoing throughout the area. These active fires and the resulting latent hot spots and voids are not readily observable as they occur beneath thick mats of grasses and vegetation.
To date, four individuals have sustained significant burn injuries, and there have been other close calls related to active response to these fires. In addition, the vastness of the affected area, the challenging terrain for fire equipment access, and the inherent difficulty of establishing and maintaining a safe perimeter prompt this closure.
The Hawai‘i County Fire Department is actively managing the situation and will determine when the lands can be reopened for shoreline access and other purposes.
The gate that provides access from Highway 11 will be closed and locked, and signage posted. We request the public’s assistance in keeping this entire area clear for fire and emergency personnel access when the gate is open.
Whittington Beach Park, which is adjacent to these lands at Honu‘apo, remains open along with the areas south of the Honu‘apo Estuary.