‘We’re going to help them’: Neighbors focus on rebuilding after Big Island wildfire

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:10 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:21 PM HST
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WAIMEA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two homes were lost in a massive wildfire on Hawaii Island over the weekend.

The families of those homes are sifting through the ashes and figuring out how to rebuild.

One of the homes lost was the Kihe family home in Pu’u Kapu which sat on Hawaiian Homestead ranch lands.

One resident of the now devastated lot said the property was granted to his grandfather and it was built from the ground up by his father.

“We tried. We could have tried harder. My worst regret is not trying harder. We tried. I don’t know. It’s just dust right now,” Josh Kihe said.

At last check, the fire burned 40,000 acres by the county’s official estimation. But in a statement by Parker Ranch, they estimate at least 50,000 acres were burned, 32,000 of which was on their property. Less than 100 animals and cattle were lost in the flames.

It makes it potentially one of the largest wildfires in state history. Previous to this fire, the DLNR said the largest blaze was in Northwest Hawaii in 1969 where 47,000 acres were blackened.

Hawaii County Fire Department said this weekend’s fire started Friday morning near Parker Ranch, but the cause wasn’t yet known.

Strong winds quickly fanned the flames over the next two days, prompting evacuations of Waikoloa Village.

Waimea resident Joe Pacheco’s home was spared and now he’s focused on helping others rebuild.

“My neighbors, I feel for them. Now we’re going to help them. No matter what it takes, we’re going to help them,” he said.

Kihe added that he tried to use a dozer to create a fire break, but the winds were so strong, the fire got out of control and they had to leave.

The Kihe family is grateful that no one was injured. They are planning to rebuild. A GoFundMe account has been set up for them. Click here to view it.

As of Monday, county officials said the fire had been stabilized but was still burning. It is contained away from the residential areas and was burning up the slopes of Mauna Kea.

Multiple agencies were engaged in the fire fight.

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