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Waialua brush fire is 80 percent contained

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:51 p.m. HST, Sep 17, 2010

A stubborn wildfire in a remote gulch in Waialua is now about 80 percent contained, a fire spokesman said.

Three helicopters from the Honolulu Fire Department, the Honolulu Police Department, and a private contractor have been dropping water on the fire, which is in a gulch with flanks too steep for firefighters to access from the ground, said Honolulu fire Capt. Terry Seelig this afternoon.

The fire is in a gulch which Poamoho Stream passes through on the Waianae-side of Poamoho Camp in agricultural field near Kaukonahua Road, Seelig said.

The fire began yesterday afternoon and burned within yards of several former plantation homes at Poamoho Camp and closed Kaukonahua Road. At one point, residents turned on water hoses and dumped buckets of water, and even beat back flames with a shovel.

This morning, firefighters came from four stations on different parts of Oahu to minimize the burden and stress placed on North Shore stations, Seelig said. 

"We're assessing and planning on where we need to create access roads and fire breaks," Seelig said. "Then when it comes out of the gulch, we can try to make sure it won't spread to the brush lands below."

Ground crews will continue working until dark and return tomorrow to assess the fire, Seelig said.

Firefighters believe the blaze was intentionally set. Police have opened a first-degree arson case and said an anonymous caller reported suspicious males in the area when the fire started. No suspects have been arrested.

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