Wind-whipped brush fires burn in Leeward Oahu

Smoke is seen coming from a fire in the Kalaeloa area (Image: Carrie Cavallo)
Smoke is seen coming from a fire in the Kalaeloa area (Image: Carrie Cavallo)
Fire is seen along Waianae mountains (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Fire is seen along Waianae mountains (Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A very tense afternoon for businesses in West Oahu on Monday after a small brush fire turned into a billowing blaze.

The blaze broke out around 12:30 p.m. Saratoga Avenue was closed in both directions between Boxer Road and Midway Street by 2:00 p.m. .

It took dozens of fire crews to get it under control. Fire officials said 75 city and federal firefighters from 27 companies assisted with the fire. They said the windy conditions helped fuel the flames and caused the blaze to spread very rapidly through Kalaeloa.

"The initial assessment was about one eighth of an acre. However, high winds did cause this fire to increase exponentially and greatly…it's grown to approximately 100 acres in size," said Honolulu Fire Department Spokesman, Capt. David Jenkins.

As more resources were requested, employees in the industrial area self-evacuated while others were not allowed in.

"We can't actually even go through the back road. It's blocked off and I guess the brush fire is actually making its way back to that side," said truck driver Thomas Ramento.

"We have animals in the yard and we have employees back there. And I don't know how they're doing. They're not answering their phones," said Joe Valdez, owner of Joel Trucking LLC.

The owner of Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft said he believes his business may be in jeopardy.

"The fire is on our end, it's heading to our place," Bob Kahana said. "We have a 50 by 50 wood structure, upstairs, downstairs. We have three different fields. Fire gets inside there, it would be totaled, devastating," he said.

Jenkins said damages are still being assessed and no injuries have been reported.

Roads were back open around 8:30 p.m. But because of the wind, firefighters will be out there throughout the night monitoring flare-ups.

No word on what sparked the fire.

In addition to the fire in Kalaeloa, firefighters also responded to a stubborn brush fire that started Sunday in Waianae around 12:15 p.m. near Piliuka Place and Kawiwi Way. More than 30 firefighters were able to contain the fire by 3:30 p.m., but six hours later it rekindled, and crews remain at the scene.

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