Firefighters battle stubborn hot spot


Firefighters continued to monitor a North Kona blaze Monday, two days after it broke out and raced toward apartments and houses off Kaiminani Drive.

Battalion Chief Steve Loyola said one department helicopter was doing water drops Monday, and while hot spots continued to flare up, the blaze remained contained, with about 95 percent of the fire break now cut. One place in particular seemed to be especially difficult to extinguish, Loyola said, prompting officials to direct a bulldozer to the area to dig up whatever kept reigniting, despite repeated water drops.

Loyola said the fire size estimate remained at about 1,000 acres as of Monday afternoon, although new measurements would be made later.

About five personnel were on scene, with three vehicles and a bulldozer.

Loyola said the fire’s cause was still under investigation.

“It started behind a warehouse,” he said, adding the person who reported it saw a 10-by-10-foot blaze. “Somebody ran inside to get a hose. By the time he got back, (the fire) was gone.”

The fire started south of Hulikoa Drive, the road mauka of the Kohanaiki development. Winds blew the blaze north, jumping across the road and toward Lokahi Makai and Wainana Estates, at the bottom of Kaiminani Drive.

The flames came close enough to the Lokahi apartments to prompt Hawaii County Civil Defense to order residents to evacuate Saturday afternoon.

Civil Defense posted an all-clear later Saturday, although residents told West Hawaii Today Monday they were turned away later Saturday night.

Loyola said the department will keep a crew at the fire scene to monitor overnight.

Officials plan to reassess the situation this morning, he added.