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Sunday, November 23, 2014         

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Firefighters battling northern edge of fire at Kilauea

By Gregg K. Kakesako

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National Park Service firefighters are working the northern edge of a fire in the east rift zone of Kilauea that was sparked by the Kamoamoa eruption on March 5.

Gary Wuchner, a park service fire information officer, said the California 27 firefighters from the national park at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in California and eight Big Island firefighters are battling the fire along a three-mile line along the northern flank of the Napau fire, which has burned 1,833 acres so far and is still not contained.

The  fire was about seven miles from the Kilauea Visitor Center, but is not a threat at this time. It is burning towards the ocean, he said.

"The fuel load is pretty extreme," Wuchner said referring to the vegetation that grows among the lava rocks.

"It's been raining, so it's pretty slippery and treacherous," he said.

As the day progresses and the humidity drops, the vegetation will dry up and pose a fire hazard. "These 'hotspots' workers will turn over the vegetation and extinguish any burning material, Wuchner added.

"The plan is to augment these operations with waterdrops if necessary."

He added: "There was no wind yesterday, but it is expected to pick up today and the humidity is expected to drop."

Wuchner said the fire slowed Thursday as winds diminished. The flames also had less fuel as they hit an area that burned in the 2003 Luhi fire.

Park firefighters had been mapping and monitoring the fire while waiting for more favorable conditions before directly engaging the fire, Wuchner said.






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