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Firefighters work to contain wind-whipped brush fire that burned 200 acres on Hawaii Island

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 10:39 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 4:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Island firefighters are still working to contain a wind-driven brush fire that broke out in the Waimea area.

The fire was about 75% contained and burned roughly 200 acres as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, officials said.

Authorities said the fire began at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in Ouli Gulch, an area between Kohala Mountain Road and Kawaihae Road.

Seventeen fire units responded and worked through the night to get the blaze under control.

Fire officials said the fire was burning near the neighborhoods of Kamuela View Estates and South Kohala View Estates.

“It looked as real and as close to a lava flow as anything I’ve seen,” said Warren Fintz, who was driving when he saw the flames.

Waimea resident Jose Parel, Jr. said his daughter heard the sirens and looked out the window, “All of a sudden she yelled ‘fire’,” Parel said he started packing as the flames drew closer,.

“We were ready to evacuate at a moments notice if we were informed by the fire department to do so,” said neighbor Melissa Samura.

None of the residents had to evacuate as fire crews deployed two bulldozers cut fire breaks through the rough terrain.

Other residents, like Eugene Ishihara, used garden hoses to try to dampen the brush surrounding their homes.

“We wet the surrounding area down in case the fire came this way,” he said, still working the hoses this morning.

Hawaii County Fire Battalion Chief John Barco said the fire was moving fast, “It’s windy,” he said, “The conditions are extremely dry, these are perfect for brush fire conditions.”

By Wednesday afternoon, a fire chopper was working to extinguish hot spots in inaccessible areas.

Ishihara and several others continued using garden hoses.

Officials said there have been no reports of damaged homes or injuries.

“It looked as real and as close to a lava flow as anything I’ve seen,” said Warren Fintz, a resident in the area.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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