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Crews continue to battle Big Island brush fire

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:43 p.m. HST, Aug 29, 2010

Firefighters used hand tools yesterday to cut a 3.6-mile fire line in high elevation to prevent a 1,387-acre fire from moving into forest areas that are home to endangered Hawaiian birds, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release.
The brush fire on the slopes of Mauna Kea is also creating visibility problems for people traveling on Saddle Road.
Drivers are being advised to use caution on Saddle Road because of dust, ash and smoke from the fire.
Increased winds have also affected visibility for firefighters. Winds yesterday were gusting up to 25 miles per hour.
The fire broke out at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 21 in the Pohakuloa Training Area and was reported to be 60 percent contained. The fire also spread to the Mauna Kea forest reserve and Mauna Kea State Recreation Area, which remain closed until further notice, a DNLR spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman said about 112 state county and federal firefighters were battling the fire.  Flare-ups are being contained by firebreaks and two helicopters are continuing to drop water on the blaze.
Hawaii County police arrested a 31-year-old Papaikou man on Monday on suspicion of causing the blaze.
No structures have been damaged and no injuries were reported.

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