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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Seeks Witnesses to Tuesday Campground Fire

Fire officials at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are seeking witnesses to a fire Tuesday afternoon that burned about ¼ acre of native koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest  behind a cabin at Nāmakanipaio Campground.

Smoke obscures the koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest at Nāmakanipaio Campground on Tuesday afternoon. NPS Photo/Luke Kittle

The fire started behind Cabin 3 shortly before 3 p.m., and was human-caused. A female and several children told firefighters they saw how it started, but left the scene before anyone could get her name and contact information.

The fire was quickly doused with water by County of Hawai‘i Engine 19, Volcano volunteer company 19, and National Park Service resources. No structures were burned, although flames came close to Cabin 3. No closures or evacuations were required.

The fire, which started behind Cabin 3 at Nāmakanipaio Campground, nearly reached the A-frame cabin. The campground and cabins are located within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and are managed by Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC. NPS Photo.

An investigation is underway. Witnesses and anyone with information about the fire are encouraged to call Park Dispatch at 808-985-6170. Callers may remain anonymous.

“With a hot and dry summer upon us, we’re definitely at an increased risk for fire in the park, and across the island,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk. “It’s important to remember that while parts of the island might be getting rainfall, other areas are very dry and quite susceptible to fire,” he said.

National Park Service Rangers Seeking Witnesses to Fatal Accident

National Park Service rangers are seeking witnesses to a fatal two-vehicle accident that occurred on Highway 11 at the Nāmakanipaio Campground intersection in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Saturday afternoon.

Nāmakanipaio Campground (NPS Photo)

Witnesses to the accident are asked to call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170, and may remain anonymous.

Rangers reported that a white Hyundai Elantra and a blue Toyota Scion were involved in the traffic accident about 1 p.m. The driver of the Hyundai, a 65-year-old man from New Jersey, was fatally injured. The other driver, a 33-year-old local male, was transported to Hilo Medical Center by ambulance.

Rangers and bystanders performed CPR on the 65-year-old male, then a medic unit from the Hawai‘i County Fire Department arrived and took over patient care. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.

Both men were the sole occupants of their vehicles.

The accident caused a complete closure of Highway 11 between mile markers 32 and 34 for several hours Saturday afternoon while officials investigated the scene. Both lanes of the highway were open by 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Hawai‘i County Police Department is aiding the NPS in the investigation.

The identification of the victims is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Volcanoes National Park Reopens Nāmakanipaio Campground

Nāmakanipaio Campground in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has reopened. Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, which manages the campground under a concession contract for the park, is taking reservations immediately.

Volcano Cabins

The popular campground has been closed since last September for the removal of large, falling and hazardous non-native eucalyptus trees in the area.

“We mahalo the public for their patience while we ensure the campground is safe again,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We are delighted to reopen ahead of summer,” she said.

Nāmakanipaio is popular with local residents and visitors, and is nestled near the summit of Kīlauea volcano at 4,000-feet, off Highway 11. Established in the 1960s, today the campground features drive-in campsites for tent camping, restrooms, showers, barbecues, and 10 rustic one-room A-frame cabins. The cabins feature bunk beds and can sleep four.

Campsite rates for tent camping are $15 a night, and the A-frame cabins start at $80 a night ($50/night for Hawai‘i residents). To make reservations for Nāmakanipaio campsites or cabins, contact Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company at (808) 756-9625, or visit http://www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com/cabins-campsites/.  Park entrance fees apply (good for seven days).

Now that the hazardous eucalyptus trees have been removed, native tree species, including ‘ōhi‘a and koa, can flourish. The campground has a fresh light and open look during the day, Mauna Loa is again visible, and at night, campers can enjoy a wider view of the sky, illuminated by stars and the glow from the lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. The Jaggar Museum observation deck, the closest vantage point to this eruption site, is an easy half-mile hike from Nāmakanipaio.