County of Hawai ‘i firefighters continue to battle three brush fires burning in remote areas of mauka Kona.
The three brush fires currently burning in difficult-to-access terrain near the 4000-foot level are not threatening lives or property. No injuries or property losses have been reported.
The fires are located at Yee Hop Ranch, Hōkūkano Ranch and Kealakekua Ranch. Each of the fires has been contained and firefighters are continuing to apply water around the perimeters of the fires.
The Yee Hop and Hōkūkano ranch fires are expected to be extinguished by tomorrow. The Kealakekua ranch fire could continue to burn for several days. Fire breaks have been bulldozed around each fire and County firefighters are at each location with heavy equipment, continuing to monitor each fire’s progress.
The altitude of the fires prevents County helicopters from making water drops. The Hōkūkano fire also is burning below a thick canopy of trees that would prevent enough water from reaching the fire to extinguish it.
“We’re not abandoning these fires,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi . “After a thorough assessment and collective analysis, we are employing the most prudent and strategic measures to extinguish these fires with the most practical means possible.” Mayor Kenoi will be assessing the fires’ progress personally from a County helicopter on Wednesday morning.
The Yee Hop and Kealakekua ranch fires are believed to have been ignited by lightning. The cause of the Hōkūkano fire is still under investigation.
“We will continue to have resources on scene and deploy what strategies we feel are prudent and most effective to mitigate the fires and minimize any threat to the community,” said County Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira.
Smoke from the fires has caused some discomfort for Kona area residents with respiratory problems. The state Department of Health is monitoring the air quality conditions and had detected some sporadic, elevated levels of particulates in the air at monitoring sites in Kona attributed to both the VOG and recent fires.
Residents are cautioned to use fireworks this weekend with extreme care and consideration for others who may be affected by the additional smoke. Fireworks users should also be aware of the extremely dry conditions caused by drought and be very careful.
Chief Oliveira warned that this is just the beginning of what is expected to be a very difficult fire season.