A 5,200-acre brush fire is keeping firefighters busy Thursday as crews work to douse the blaze burning since Monday in Pahala.
The makai fire, one of two brush fires burning in the Pahala area, is estimated at 5,200 acres, said Hawaii Fire Department East Hawaii Battalion Chief Warren Sumida who added current conditions were sunny with no wind. A more current update on the fire’s size and containment is anticipated by noon, he said, noting personnel were preparing to conduct aerial reconnaissance.
Highway 11, the lone means of traversing South Hawaii, remains open to both lanes of travel, he said. Motorists are asked to drive carefully and yield to crews and vehicles on the highway.
Ka‘u Hospital, which was closed Monday and Tuesday because of smoke from the fire, reopened its emergency room Tuesday evening, said Merilyn Harris, hospital administrator. Fifteen long-term care patients evacuated to the Naalehu Community Center returned to the hospital Wednesday, just in time for dinner, she said.
A second 400-acre brush fire burning above Pahala off Cane Haul Road continues to burn but is listed at 95 percent contained, according to the department.