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Helicopter diverted from fighting brush fire to rescue hiker

  • STAN LEE / SLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM
    A Honolulu Fire Department helicopter makes a water drop on a fire above the University of Hawaii-Manoa Friday afternoon.
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Firefighters resumed fighting a stubborn brush fire in Manoa Valley on Saturday morning, but had to divert a fire helicopter making water drops to rescue a woman who fell on Olomana Trail.

The brush fire is burning uncontained on the Diamond Head side of the valley, but is barely moving and isn’t threatening any structures, said Honolulu Fire Capt. David Jenkins.

Firefighters are trying to keep the flames from moving toward homes along Kalawao Street below and Saint Louis Drive above, Jenkins said.

Five fire companies and 18 firefighters returned to the scene about 8 a.m. and were joined by a fire helicopter making water drops.

Shortly after 10 a.m., however, the helicopter was diverted to rescue a woman who had fallen about 20 to 40 feet on Olomana Trail in Kailua, Jenkins said.

Firefighters reached the 46-year-old woman by helicopter near the first peak and took her to Maunawili Park, where she was transferred to emergency medical personnel.

An Emergency Medical Services supervisor said the woman was injured when she slid about 40 feet and was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Jenkins said the woman had been hiking with a group and it wasn’t known how she fell.

He described Olomana is an "extremely dangerous trail" where two people have fallen to death in 

the past four years and urged hikers to use extreme caution and "know what they are getting into."

He said the fire helicopter would return to Manoa to make additional water drops and lower firefighters onto the ridgeline to fight hot spots.

In the valley, light winds and rain were helping firefighters.

The blaze began about 4:30 p.m. Friday, above the University of Hawaii faculty housing on Dole Street and was briefly brought under control, before flaring up again that evening and moving deeper into Manoa Valley.

One firefighter hurt his knee while fighting the fire Friday and was taken to the hospital.

The size and cause of the fire were undetermined.

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