Fire crews kept busy with another East Oahu brush fire

Lt. Gerrit Kurihara
Lt. Gerrit Kurihara

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kalanianaole Highway was closed for nearly two hours Sunday after thick smoke from a small brush fire near the Hawaii Kai Golf Course made driving hazardous.

The 10:45 a.m. fire was brought under control quickly, but the highway remained closed until about 12:30 p.m. because of fire trucks and other equipment on the roadway. Traffic was tied up at nearby Sandy Beach, with eastbound vehicles unable to continue to Makapuu or Waimanalo.

Police said they found a 42 year-old homeless man had set up a camp in the bushes across from the golf course, and that there was evidence that the fire may have started there.

"There were signs of possibly a campfire and cigarette butts found in the area that may have contributed to the start of the fire, but we have no conclusive evidence that he's responsible directly," said Honolulu Police Lt. Gerrit Kurihara.

Other homeless camps were destroyed last Thursday in a much larger brush fire in Haleiwa. Police have opened an arson investigation into that blaze, but officers do not believe it's the case in Sunday's fire.

"There's no evidence that tells us or indicates arson," said Lt. Kurihara. "It looks like, if anything, an accidental fire."

The fire also comes three days after a five-acre blaze burned above homes in nearby Hahaione Valley. No homes were threatened in Sunday's blaze.

The homeless man was treated at the scene for minor burns to his foot and leg.

"The gentleman that was involved that we found at the scene was not arrested," Lt. Kurihara said. "He was treated by the EMS, and then refused further treatment. And we're advising him to seek other accommodations elsewhere."

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