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Cooler weather at Kilauea allows firefighters to plan

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park firefighters took advantage of misty conditions yesterday to strategically prepare for their showdown with a raging brush fire that has blackened more than 1,800 acres on the flank of Kilauea Volcano.

The firefighters were joined by a crew from Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in California. Yet, even with more reinforcements scheduled to come in over the next two days, the number of personnel available to fight the fire is very limited — just 20 as of yesterday — and the conditions are far from ideal.

Recent drought combined with a vegetation-killing freeze last year and fire-fueling grasslands left from a 2003 blaze have allowed the fire to spread quickly since it was first sparked by lava on March 5.

While yesterday’s misty weather moderated the fire’s advance, fire information officer Gary Wuchner said fire conditions were still too dynamic and intense to enter.

"It’s still too risky to put our firefighters in," Wunder said. "We don’t want to put our firefighters at risk. And because it can also get very expensive to start an action and then have to pull back, we want to be sure that we have a high probability of success when we do go in."

Still, Wuchner said fire crews were able to accomplish much that will help them fight the fire in the coming days.

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