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Hawaii island firefighters battle wildfires that have burned 5,300 acres

Police reopen Highway 11


LAST UPDATED: 2:58 p.m. HST, Jun 20, 2012

Forty-nine Hawaii County firefighters continue to battle two wildfires today that has consumed nearly 5,300 acres and has been burning for three days in the Pahala district of Kau.

The fire jumped Highway 11, or Mamalahoa Highway, at the 49-mile marker to the mauka side of the road on Tuesday night forcing firefighters to reposition bulldozers to contain the blaze, said Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Arbles.

The blaze on the mauka side of the highway has consumed 400 acres and is about 85 percent contained, Arbles said. "It is not moving," he added.

On the makai side of Highway 11 nearly 5,000 acres have been scorched. That fire is slowly moving north helped by the breezes from the ocean during the day.

This afternoon, police reopened Highway 11 after shutting it down from mile markers 51 to 46.

No structures have been destroyed and no one has been injured since the fires began Monday on macadamia nut orchard and pasture lands.

Firefighters are being aided by water drops by the department's helicopter on the makai side of Highway 11.

Arbles also said four water tanker trucks holding 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water will continue to douse portions of the highway to prevent the fires from spreading.

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