(BIVN) – Mauna Loa Road is closed to motor vehicles at the Kīpukapuaulu parking area gate due to fire operations, the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park announced on Tuesday morning.
In a social media message issued at 9 a.m. HST, the National Park Service reported that the fire was 50-acres in size.
“Fire suppression efforts are underway, with fire crew personnel, 3 engines, a water tender and helicopter assistance on scene,” the official account tweeted.
Only authorized vehicles are allowed in the area of the fire.
The National Park Service provided this information in a later news release:
The fire started on a power line road at approximately 4,800-ft. elevation on the southeast flank of Mauna Loa and is burning through dry grasses, native shrubs and trees in the footprint of the 2018 Keauhou fire, towards Kapāpala Ranch. Hazards include snags from previously burned koa and ʻōhiʻa trees and extremely rough uneven lava rock terrain. No homes or other structures are threatened at this time.
The cause of the wildfire is under investigation. It is burning through forest that provides habitat for native birds, including ʻapapane, ʻelepaio and ʻamakihi. The fire also damaged about 1,760 feet of ungulate-proof fence which protects native forest from non-native hooved animals like goats, sheep and cattle.
Other areas of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park are already closed due to elevated fire risk. That includes the Hilina Pali Overlook and Road west of the Mauna Iki Trailhead. Access is available to Kulanaokuaiki Campground, Mauna Iki Trail and backcountry permit holders, the NPS says.
“Mostly dry conditions with light and variable winds are forecast in the area through Tuesday afternoon, with the possibility of precipitation Tuesday evening,” the National Park Service added.