Controlled burn at Schofield sends smoke, ash to Leeward areas

Controlled burn at Schofield sends smoke, ash to Leeward areas

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Schofield Barracks holds a prescribed burn every year in order to reduce wildfire hazards.

But this year's burn prompted a lot of calls from Leeward residents complaining about smoke.

Schofield began the burn on 1,100 acres of land Monday morning to remove fire-prone vegetation on the training range.

But strong winds apparently blew a lot of the smoke to the Waianae and Makaha areas.

“This afternoon, it was like a voggy type of feel coming through the valley behind us,” said Makaha resident Mike Cicac. “And there was a thick smell of smoke in the air.”

Cicac spent Wednesday afternoon golfing at the Makaha Valley Country Club, where there were more than the usual course hazards.

“It was rather smoky with a lot of ash coming down through the valley,” he said.

A lot of that ash ended up in the grass, and many small pieces of ash, about an inch or so long, were still visible in the green on the back nine. Many golfers said the smoke and ash were particularly heavy around lunchtime.

The ash also ended up in some residential neighborhoods in the Waianae.

“I came home, and then I like noticed all this ash floating around in my patio and whatnot, and then eventually get into the house,” said Sam Kapoi.

Most of the ash had already been swept up, but some ashes were still found behind some benches on the lanai.

The army last week announced the burns, which were scheduled for Monday through Friday of this week.. While it is meant to reduce the wildfire risk, sometimes even the controlled burn goes out of control, like it did in 2013.

But this year's burn, smoke, ash and all, is considered a success. A Schofield spokeswoman said effective prescribed burns can reduce wildfire out breaks by as much as 75 percent. It also is part of the Army's efforts to protect environmental and cultural resources on the training range.

The spokeswoman also had some good news for Leeward residents: Schofield has completed this year's burn. Instead, fire crews will be mopping up and making sure that any remaining spot fires are extinguished.

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