WAIALUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Oahu's North Shore, a brush fire which broke out near Dole Plantation Thursday afternoon is still smoldering. Late Friday, the fire that scorched 500 acres of agricultural land was burning in a gulch. Firefighters are using bulldozers to access the fire area in the remote area.
Investigators believe the wildfire was intentionally set. They have zeroed in on the brushfire's origin and found enough evidence to turn the case over to police.
An investigator pinpointed where it all started, using flags to track the way it spread.
"He's been able to put flags out to represent the fires behavior. Fire leaves patterns in any environment, even a wildfire like this," said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department Spokesperson.
Investigators aren't sure what was used to ignite the wildfire.
Based on the telltale burn marks, plus witness statements, they believe the blaze was intentionally set.
"They gave observations of people in the vicinity," said Seelig.
The fire broke out at about 2:00 p.m.
At least 55 firefighters and two helicopters battled through heavy smoke, and intense flames. At one point, the brush fire crept towards about 20 homes at the Poamoho Camp, where Rina Tyrell lives.
"My mom came running in the house, I was on the computer and I thought she fell but she was like, 'oh there's a fire in the back'. So me, my grandpa and my cousin, we ran into the back and we'd seen like, just a big flame," said Tyrell.
Fortunately, winds changed direction, and helped fan the flames away.
This is the third time, a wildfire burned this area in the last month and a half.
An August 31st, 100 acres burned in Waialua, destroying 14 farms.
Police say it was arson, based on two empty containers they found with flammable substances.
And just weeks before that, on August 6, also in Waialua, another brush fire charred 100 acres
Thursday's brush fire created a wall of smoke and ash, but has been moving away from the nearest neighborhood.
However, the panic from the close call is still raw.
"Yeah, I was scared because it was like coming towards my house," said Tyrell.