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Makakilo brush fire prompts evacuations; 2nd blaze in Kunia

By Gordon Pang and Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 3:47 p.m. HST, Nov 8, 2011

Firefighters were call to a second brush fire just after 1 p.m. near the H-1 freeway Kunia on-ramp, and are still battling a blaze near the Makakilo Quarry that ignited this morning.

Two east-bound lanes of the H-1 Freeway In the Waipahu-Kunia area have been closed by police.

Earlier today, officials evacuated about 20 homes and closed two westbound lanes of the H-1 freeway near Makakilo because of a brush fire that began near the western end of Makakilo Quarry.

That fire was reported just before 10:30 a.m. Residents were being let back into their homes about noon, about an hour after the evacuation took place.

About 1 p.m., Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said the fire was contained. He said strong trade winds contributed to the rapid spreading of the fire.

At least four fire companies, two tanker trucks and two of the Honolulu Fire Department’s helicopters responded to the fire near a quarry in Makakilo this morning.

Bob Creps, vice president of Grace Pacific which owns Makakilo Quarry, said the fire was at the western perimeter of the quarry.

Police closed two right westbound lanes of the freeway one mile before the Makakilo off-ramp.

At 11:05 a.m., officials evacuated about 20 homes on ‘Ohio and Kulihi streets in the Kahiwelo subdivision, built about two years ago just mauka of the freeway. Fire got as close as about 50 yards from some homes. About noon the residents were allowed to return home.

A helicopter was putting buckets of water on the smoky fire, which was burning in windy conditions.

Tracie Navarra, who lives at end of ‘Ohio Street, said she smelled smoke about 10:30 a.m. She said it appeared the fire started near the quarry, went down into the gulch and began to creep up the side of the western side of the gulch to approach the subdivision. “It’s a little frightening,” she said, noting that the fire moved rapidly due to strong winds.

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