Waialua Farmers and Ranchers Suffer Serious Fire Damage

Al Santoro
Al Santoro
Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Mayor Mufi Hannemann

WAIALUA (KHNL) - The wind has been causing a challenge for firefighters battling a brush fire on Oahu's North Shore. They've been trying to put it out since Sunday.

Here's an update on the fire. It is 45% contained. Five helicopters assaulted the fire from the air. While 127 firefighters tried to battle it from the ground.

Nearly seven thousand acres have been burned so far.

Wednesday, we discovered this was much more than a brush fire.  Avocados, nearly ripe, were ready for the market. They are burned, they can't be eaten, just thrown away.

Now that the smoke has cleared, farmers and ranchers are surveying the damage.

Much more than brush burned. The fire burned through this organic farm.

Waialua farmer Al Santoro reports, "The North Shore is the largest agricultural area on Oahu. And the thing is when these grass fires go through, get out-of-control like this was out-of-control, it runs through farmland."

Mayor Mufi Hannemann got a first hand look, "I got some calls from some farmers and so I want to be able to see them and hear first hand what their situation is. We know some ranches were affected and some farmers farmland but we don't know the extent of it so far."

The orchard is charred.

"We are right on the edge of Poamoho gulch and the fire came right up and we had plantings alongside gulch and most of them were banana so we've actually lost the fire destroyed half of our banana crop," says Santoro.

Bananas are badly burned, the water lines ruined. Santoro adds it up, "We lost thousands of feet of irrigation line, they are all just melted in place."

Much of this fruit was ready to be picked. Santoro says the loss is significant, "It's devastating because you are looking at this thing, just ready to harvest beautiful apple banana, gorgeous papaya "

Not much left after the fire came through.