Wildfire's Damage Reveals part of Ancient Hawaii

Wildfire's Damage Reveals part of Ancient Hawaii

WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been nearly three-months since residents in Waianae valley watched Oahu's largest wildfire this year, surround their properties and threaten their homes. While no one was hurt, the community is still feeling the effects.

Ka'ala farm rests deep in Waianae valley. It serves over 3,000 students a year by teaching them Hawaiian culture, values, and the history of their community. But all of that was threatened this past June.

"Very dramatic to say the least, it was like a war zone in here at the time," said Butch DeTroy, manager at Ka'ala Farms Cultural Learning Center.

That war zone left hundreds of acres on the farm burnt and blackened, including its grass hale and over 6,000 feet of the farms main water pipeline; cutting off the source of life for its taro patches.

"It has destroyed, but it has also given us the potential to re-grow or start all over," said Eric Enos, Director of Ka'ala Farm.

That's what workers on the farm would end up doing, starting with the fix of their water system.

"We had to haul pipes all the way up, reconnect the damaged. It was real tough walking up and down, up and down, but it was for a good cause," said Liveon Simmons, an intern at Ka'ala Farms Cultural Learning Center.

A cause that's supported by over 100-volunteers who turned out on Saturday to clean taro patches, cut down charred trees, and expose acres of Hawaiian history.

"There's sites in here that go all the way into the forest and we always knew they were here but we never knew the extent of it," said DeTroy.

Those sites are what members say could be hundreds of dried out taro patches.

"A lot of them, the walls are still perfect, some of them are like football fields," said DeTroy.

DeTroy says Ka'ala Farm sits on what was once the 'Poi Bowl' of Waianae. He believes there once was more taro produced in that valley than what's made across all of the islands today.

"What this is showing us is that we need to get moving and expand on this Lo'i. This place can feed all of Waianae again, and beyond," said DeTroy.

DeTroy says there's still a lot that has to happen in order for the farm to be able to restore more of the Lo'I; including the clearing of burnt trees, but mainly getting water flowing from the mountain into the ditches. Saturday's goal was just to make the land safe enough for school students who'll be visiting the farm this year.

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