State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and Kaua‘i County firefighters working together to fight the Hikimoe Ridge fire continue to make steady progress.
Yesterday’s favorable weather (increased humidity and calmer winds) gave crews the opportunity to gain an upper hand on suppression effort, aided by additional equipment. Overnight fire fighting work with bulldozers and hand lines has held and fire activity was moderate.
Fire size today was mapped at 652 acres and 15% contained.
Favorable weather conditions were expected to continue today. DLNR fire crews from Kaua‘i, Maui and O‘ahu will continue their work at least through the weekend and will be joined by a team from the Big Island on Sunday. Morale is high.
As a safety precaution a voluntary evacuation notice remains in effect for cabins in the Pu‘u Ka Pele section of Waimea Canyon State Park until fire officials deem fire conditions are no longer a threat to cabin users and structures.
“We understand that people may want to come to their cabins this weekend for the July 4 holiday. We urge the public to be prepared to quickly evacuate in the event the fire could ramp up again,” said Aila.
Total manpower today of 85 people included: 68 Division of Forestry and Wildlife personnel on the fire line, providing logistical support, and 3 DOCARE enforcement officers providing security, in addition to contracted support from two bulldozers, two water tenders, and four helicopters.
This total also includes 12 Kaua‘i Fire Department (KFD) firefighters, the County’s Air One helicopter that assisted in the afternoon with water drops, two County Public Works personnel with a water tender, and a communications van that provided critical communications support for crews and helicopters in this remote location.
“We are very appreciative of the continued tremendous support from Kaua‘i Fire Department,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “Their support has been tremendous.”
Helicopters also continued water drops on a second spot fire that broke out late yesterday afternoon about 1-1/2miles away, on the western side of Ha‘ele‘ele Ridge.
The earlier Polihale ridge spot fire has since joined up with the main fire. Spot fires exemplify extreme fire behavior and occur when hot embers are tossed across the fire line by strong winds. Embers can land and start new fires fairly far away depending on weather conditions.
Hunting units A and J in the Pu‘u Ka Pele forest reserve remain closed. Notices of the fire closure are posted at the Koke‘e and Pu‘u ‘Opae Hunter Checking Stations.
Pu‘u Lua Reservoir and trout fishing remained closed for public safety, until further notice. The gate is closed at the 12 mile marker on Highway 550.
The fire is burning in a eucalyptus tree plantation planted in the 1970s. Some of the trees are 85 to 120 feet tall. Weather conditions remain hot and dry with low humidity and strong easterly winds making fire behavior and direction of spread difficult to predict.
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