Evacuation orders lifted for communities affected by massive wildfire on Hawaii Island

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth gives an update on the wildfire that has scorched 40,000 acres. He also discusses COVID-19 in his community.
Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 8:29 AM HST
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WAIMEA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Evacuation orders have been lifted for communities affected by a massive, wind-whipped wildfire that destroyed at least two homes over the weekend.

At last check, the fire scorched 40,000 acres, but that number is expected to rise when updated on Monday.

“It looks like the fire at this time, we’re keeping it away from the populated areas, so we hope we can keep them away a little bit longer,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth, in an interview on Monday. “So we’re feeling pretty confident that we won’t have to evacuate.”

On Sunday night, Hawaii Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd said crews are gaining an upper hand against the blaze. Later in the evening, all mandatory evacuation orders for Waikoloa Village, Waikii Ranch and Puu Kapu Hawaiian Homestead were lifted and authorities said there was no imminent threat to homes.

But officials also said the situation remains fluid and urged residents to remain prepared. Residents in affected areas were warned that in addition to the flames, thick smoke was an ongoing threat.

“We’re currently fighting the fire on three primary fronts,” Todd said.

“One is in the Pu’u Kapu region where most of the wildland area has been burnt down, so we’re dealing with hot spots. For the most part, the fire has been brought more under control in that area.”

He added that the only active flames are located east of Highway 190.

[Read more: Waikoloa Village residents ordered to evacuate as raging brush fire continues]

More than 140 personnel were battling the flames as of noon Sunday, including with six helicopters and 14 bulldozers. The National Guard has also been called to assist.

Hawaii County Fire Department said the blaze started on Friday morning near Parker Ranch.

And on Saturday and into Sunday, strong winds quickly fanned the flames, burning thousands of acres.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

“The weather has started stabilize and the winds ... have died down,” Todd said. He added: “At the moment the fire is not contained, and we are working feverishly to protect our communities.”

Shelters at the Old Kona Airport and Waimea District Park remain open. County officials said there were just over 100 people in the shelter in Kona, and two in the shelter in Waimea.

So far, there have been no reports of injuries.

This story will be updated.

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