Community comes together to fight destructive Big Island blaze

Local News

WAIMEA, Hawaii (KHON2) — Evacuations have been lifted after a massive brush fire ripped through portions of Waimea and Waikoloa on Hawaii island over the weekend.

Residents can return home but should be careful with hot spots. In all the county says two homes were destroyed in the fire, and there’s no word on the cause just yet.

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It almost looks apocalyptic.

You can see fire flare ups in the distance and what used to be homes completely destroyed. It was a long 48 hours for the Puu Kapu Hawaiian Homestead community. They gave KHON2 a peak at what it’s been like the past two days.

A small fire began Friday afternoon a few miles from the homesteads.

“It seems like it was under control at first,” said Kumu Micah Kamohoalii, Puu Kapu Hawaiian Homestead resident. “It wasn’t that much of a concern, and then the wind picked up. It just ran through the pastures really really fast.”

It quickly burnt 14,000 acres. Evacuations were ordered for nearly 100 families on Saturday but not many people left.

Kamohoalii said, “Families. This is all they have. It’s hard to even get any access to things out here. Even trying to get help from DHHL is hard. So that’s all they have. They pieced together their homes with whatever money they could so most of them stayed home.”

The community came together, building their own fire trucks and battling the flames that came within feet of homes.

“Everyone was saying our house was on fire,” said Leilani Whittle. Kapu Hawaiian Homestead resident. “I mean it came super close. Helicopters were pulling water from the tank to jump on the house to protect the house. It was scary.

Not every home was saved.

“I did see two homes burn,” said Kamohoalii. “I watched both of them.”

One of them is Joshua Kihei who has two young daughters and a wife.

“He started a go fund me but it’s a workday,” said Kamohoalii. “People have to feed their families and in this case put a roof over their head.”

Penny Kaae said “It was really scary. It was a really scary fire. Everyone came through if not you wouldn’t see this house.”

While some might see this as a disaster Kamohoalii sees it differently for Hawaiians

“A good burn helps you start a new,” said Kamohoalii. “All of this will have new shoots growing up. Our aalii. It’s still holding its ground like it does. So it’s going to have new growth in it, and it will rebuild itself.”

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