Firefighters contain brush fire along Waialae Nui Ridge


Firefighters have gained the upper hand on a brush fire on Waialae Nui Ridge, above Kahala.

First responders received several 911 calls at around 2 p.m. Thick smoke could be seen from miles away and flames appeared too close for some homeowners.

“I thought the fire was going the other way, but it came as close as my property line,” said Waialae Nui resident Edwin Motoshige. “Firemen were here so thankfully, yeah, it was okay.”

Twelve companies with 38 personnel responded. Crews centered their efforts along Alaeloa Street and Halekoa Drive.

“When we first got here, the winds were up a little bit. Luckily we had a little help from the elements,” said Capt. Jason Mejia, Honolulu Fire Department. “The winds stopped, and we got some light rain so that definitely helped a little bit.”

But aside from the dry conditions, Mejia says crews also had to deal with something else.

“During our operations, some of our firefighters noticed a drone in the air kind of hovering around right where we were working in our operational areas,” he said.

Once HFD found the drone’s operator, police were called and the drone was forced to land. With Air One overhead and crews on the ground, Mejia said having a drone in the air just isn’t safe.

“Sometimes it gets too close in the way of what we’re trying to do and if there’s a failure of the drone, who knows what could happen,” he said.

As of 5 p.m., the fire was considered fully contained and under control. The fire is estimated at three to five acres.

“We have approximately 35 personnel just getting down in the gulch and just providing a lot of manpower to get all the hot spots and chase it down,” Mejia said.

The cause remains under investigation.

No homes were threatened, but firefighters at the scene said the fire impacted power lines along the ridge.

Hawaiian Electric says power was initially cut to 1,050 customers in the area, including parts of Kahala Mall.

The outage occurred at around 2 p.m., about the time the fire started, however HECO has yet to determine whether the two are connected.

Power was restored to most customers by 5:50 p.m.

Because of drought conditions, so far this year over 10,000 acres have already burned from brush fires — twice the number of acres burned during all of 2015.

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