‘This is unprecedented’ Strong winds hamper fire fighting efforts on the Big Island

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Thick smoke could be seen on the Big Island in the Waikoloa area for miles, as a massive brush fire burned over 40,000 acres.

Hawaii County Councilman Tim Richards said he has never seen a brush fire on the Big Island like this before.

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“It’ll be the largest brush fire in our county’s history,” Richards said. “This is unprecedented as far as the impact of this.”

Thousands of people have been impacted by the blaze. Officials told folks in the Waikoloa Village to evacuate on Sunday.

“Again, do not panic, but if you’re in the Waikoloa area, we’re asking that you start evacuation,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, at least one home has been destroyed in Pu’u Kapu.

Not helping to fight the blaze is the wind.

“The wind is really blowing right now. It’s gotta be at least 30mph. I was out there, and I had trouble holding onto my door,” Richards said.

Even firefighters’ best line of defense has proved ineffective so far.

“At this time, due to the high wind and weather patterns that are going on through the area, the fire continues to break through our fire breaks,” said Fire Chief Kazuo Todd of the Hawaii Fire Department.

It’s an all hands on deck situation. Crews have been working tirelessly to put out the flames.

“We have approximately 50 fire apparatus’ on scene fighting the fire with over 140 personnel. At this time, the National Guard has also been requested to assist,” Chief Todd said.

The Red Cross currently has two evacuation shelters set up for people with nowhere to go.

Folks can go to Waimea District Park or Old Airport Pavilion in Kona.

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