Fire officials determine fireworks caused massive wildfire in Hawaii Kai

Courtesy: Neal Miyake
Courtesy: Neal Miyake
Courtesy: Rex Maximilian
Courtesy: Rex Maximilian

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu fire officials have determined that fireworks caused a brush fire in Hawaii Kai Sunday night that scorched about 200 acres of land and crept dangerously close to homes. Residents on Laielua Place in Kalama Valley say the blaze started near the base of the mountain behind their homes.

It was a long battle for firefighters. They responded to the scene just before 9:30 PM Sunday, and had the blaze 85% contained at 7 AM Monday.

Blackened trees. Smoldering brush. Daylight revealed the damage left by a massive wildfire on Kamehame Ridge in Hawaii Kai.

"It was truly amazing to watch the fire move," Matt Glei, Kalama Valley resident, said. "It would just like whew."

Fire officials now confirm that the towering flames were caused by Fourth of July fireworks, which landed in -- and ignited -- the dry brush right behind Glei's home.

"One of the neighbors said clearly a rocket went by from somewhere in the middle of the valley," he said. "It went by and they heard the boom, boom, and didn't hear the third boom, but heard crackling noises."

The fire quickly grew, climbing up the mountain towards Teresa Kanekoa's house on Kamehame Ridge. The mother of four young children watched helplessly from a distance, as firefighters worked to protect homes.

"Just hoping that you wouldn't see this big, huge flame because it could have been your house," she said. "But it was scary because, with it being so dark, we didn't know exactly where our house was."

Seeing the charred land, she now knows the danger came within several yards.

"They do such an amazing job," Kanekoa said about the fire crews. "Just so grateful."

More than 14 hours after the blaze erupted, crews were still on the scene battling steep terrain to reach stubborn hot spots. Area residents say they're amazed that the flames scorched 200 acres of land, but didn't cause any property damage or injuries.

"Not quite the front row seat that you want?" this reporter asked Glei.

"No, no, absolutely not," he replied. "I've been in hurricanes and a lot of other things, but I've never had a fire come down within spitting distance of the house."

Residents near the fire's origin say they're working with police in hopes of getting a suspect identified and arrested.

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