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Homes, Makakilo camp evacuated due to brush fire

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 8:43 p.m. HST, Aug 22, 2014

Honolulu firefighters battled a wind-whipped brush fire that forced the evacuation of about 40 houses and cabins in upper Makakilo and some structures at Camp Timberline on Friday, said fire spokesman David Jenkins.

About sunset Friday, some 20 cabins on Palehua Road were evacuated because of the approaching fire. Firefighters stationed one fire company to protect each cabin, Jenkins said.

The residents took refuge at Camp Timberline, which was reopened after being evacuated earlier in the afternoon, he said.

The evacuated homes were on and near Umena Street, Jenkins said.

The fire, fanned by 20-30 mph winds, was moving into the mountains with large trees, gullies and steep terrain, which made it impossible for firefighters to get to, Jenkins said. It was too dark and windy to use the fire helicopter to drop water on the brush fire.

The fire was first reported about 4:30 p.m. At least 30 fire companies and 100 firefighters along with seven federal fire companies responded to the scene, resulting in the Fire Department being at Level 2 manning. That means one-third of the Fire Department are out of the stations responding to emergencies.

Residents have been asked to keep streets clear in the area near Umena and Kikaha streets.

Viola Genadio of Kikaha Street was at work in Kapolei and received a text from a neighbor and Genadio saw smoke on hilltop. "I saw the smoke all across the ridge, and it was shocking. It's the worst I have seen in 20 years here."

She said she was home Monday and black ash flew into her home, and she reported that brush fire.

The city and the American Red Cross have opened an emergency shelter for affected residents at the Makakilo Community Park, 92-1140 Makakilo Drive.

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