Monday, December 28, 2009

Two Fires Still Burning, Still Choking Kona

As I drove to Hilo early this morning I could see the south wind pushing smoke around the back of Hualalai, hazing up Waikoloa and Waimea. I confirmed with Hawaii County Civil Defense that both the Honomalino fire and the Hokukano fire are still burning. According to both HCCD and Hokukano Ranch, the Hokukano fire is too remote and in too rugged country for ordinary fire-fighting equipment. Both Hawaii Fire Department and Hokukano bulldozers are being used up there to create firebreaks. So another night, at least, of itchy eyes and noses. Too bad, too, about the native forest being consumed.

UPDATE: Make that three fires, according to WHT.

UPDATE 2: A commenter suggests that the fires were deliberately set, and that the fire department is letting them burn. According to WHT, Fire Chief Darryl Olivera said the fires were "likely" due to "natural causes." Aside from lightning, what would those causes be? Olivera also said that it's "more economical" to just let the fires "burn themselves out." Another item for the "your county government cares about West Hawaii" file.

UPDATE 3: According to Damon and WHT, the county is not just letting the fires burn themselves out, but is actively trying to extinguish them. Perhaps our non-stop whining blogging about the fires and smoke prodded the county to issue the press release, but in any case, good on them. No smoke smell yesterday (12/29), but that was apparently due to the north wind, because the smell is back this morning (12/30).

UPDATE 4: The Advertiser says that while lightning is suspected in the Kealakekua Ranch and Yee Hop fires, the causes of the Hokukano Ranch fire (property owned by the Pace family with a history of questionable land practices) is "under investigation."

UPDATE 5: Fire Chief Olivera apologizes and assures us that they are "trying to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible." Still a smoke smell in the air, though (12/31).


Anonymous said...

it has been suggested that a few of those fires had been intentionally set (YEE HOP) and the fire dept let it burn.
i wonder if they are doing the same with the others? or if they were set also.

Anonymous said...

Where's the visual?

The lightning as put a damper on my internet service the last few days... and at the rate that Oceanic Time Warner is fixing the problem... I wonder if the Fire Department couldn't fix it faster!