Crews continue to battle Makakilo brush fire
MAKAKILO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The brush fire that scorched nearly 1,000 acres in Makakilo continues to burn, Honolulu Fire Department officials said, and it is heading north and away from residences.
Officials lifted the evacuation for Palehua residents at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
"We would like to commend everybody, especially the other agencies...DLNR, DOFA, Federal Fire Department, even HPD with their contribution of their helicopter. Everybody contributed to the successes so far of this incident," said Capt. David Jenkins with the Honolulu Fire Department.According to HFD, two young boys playing with lighters caused the large brush fire in Makakilo. Officials say the two 7-year-old boys are brothers.
"We are here to say we regret what has happened. Our children realize the consequences of their actions. We want parents to realize this can happen to anyone and how important it is discuss fire safety with their children. We will be participating in a fire safety program," said Troy Wright, the boys' father.
The fire started Friday afternoon.
About 35 firefighters fought the flames on the ground while four choppers in the air dumped 150 to 200 gallons of water on hot spots on Sunday. Approximately 60 firefighters battled the blaze on Saturday and more than 100 were on scene on Friday when the fire first broke out. Twenty homes on Palehua Ridge were in danger. The homes on the ridge are surrounded by tall trees making it very dangerous and difficult to protect. Firefighters spent Friday and Saturday night staged at each house and other assets like phone towers in the area.
"This fire is rather difficult. It's on steep, rough terrain. The wind has been gusting up to 20 to 30 mph. There's are some inaccessible areas where the firefighters are unable to get to," said Capt. Jenkins.
Fire officials say that one home on Umena Street did sustain minor damages.
"This is the worst one I've seen. It's terrible, it's so huge. It's still smoking. See...a lot of fire I can see from the mountains. So it's not over yet." Ben Mascarenas said on Saturday. Mascarenas' home was damaged by the flames.
"The fire was real close. So I was watching, I was behind my house and it was really...like 500 feet away. Like...wow....it was...I can't tell you how the feeling was," said Mascarena's neighbor Ramon Sumibcay on Friday.
On Monday morning, parts of the fire along the upper slopes and heavily forested areas were 20 percent contained. Both the hill behind Umena Street and the Palehua Road area are contained. There is a deep gully firefighters are trying to prevent the fire from going into. If the fire reaches the gully, Capt. Jenkins says it is possible that Palehua Road residents will have to evacuate again.
Several communications towers, including cell phone towers, are in the area and were once in jeopardy.
Water supply has been an issue because there are no fire hydrants at that elevation.
The Red Cross did open an emergency shelter for affected Makakilo residents at Makakilo Community Park located at 92-1140 Makakilo Drive in Kapolei. About 40 residents were displaced. That shelter closed at 11:30 p.m Friday.
The Honolulu Fire Department wants the public to know they have fire safety education available and they urge families at schools to participate in their programs. For more information call HFD at (808) 723-7117.
There have been no reports of any injuries, be sure to stay with Hawaii News Now for more updates on this situation.
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