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High winds keep firefighters busy all weekend

High winds kept firefighters busy over the weekend with numerous wind-related calls, and firefighters urged hikers to stay off mountain trails because afirehelicopter may not be available to rescue them if they run into trouble.

On Saturday and Sunday, firefighters responded to six blown roofs and seven downed trees across the island, the first call being a blown roof in Kailua at about3:20a.m. Saturday, said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. James Todd.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning Sunday for parts of Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Kahoolawe and Hawaii island.

Easterly winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts of 60 mph battered the isles Sunday, and the weather service said winds will be strong and gusty through Monday. Awindadvisory will be in effect until 6 p.m. today.

A high pressure system about 900 miles to the northeast of Hawaii was driving the strong tradewinds across the islands, the weather service said.

On Saturday, there were blown roofs in Kaimuki and Kailua, and a downed tree near the Ewa lanes of the H-1 freeway offramp near McCully Street. On Sunday,firefighters responded to six downed trees and four blown roofs in various neighborhoods, including Ewa Beach, Palolo, Wahiawa, Kapolei, Pearl City, Manoa, Mililani,and downtown, Todd said.

About 12:50 p.m. Sunday, a large tree fell near the H-2 freeway offramp at the Mililani Tech Park and firefighters had to cut away part of the tree that was blocking alane of traffic, Todd said. Ten minutes later, a 40-foot tree fell near Waikalani Drive and Wikao Street in Mililani, breaking a fire hydrant supply line.

About 3:20 p.m., firefighters responded to a roof lifting off a highrise on Waikalani Drive, and shortly after 5 p.m., firefighters cleared a downed tree that wasblocking one Honolulu-bound lane on the Kaneohe side of Wilson Tunnel.

“We can’t really stop mother nature,” Todd said, advising, “Keep everything locked down so it doesn’t fly around to become a projectile that could injure people.”

Todd said the high winds may keep the fire rescue helicopter grounded, and stranded or lost hikers might have to wait longer to be rescued because firefighterswillhave to hike to reach them.

“It’s not really good to go in the mountains at this point,” he said.

He said it’s up to the pilot whether or not to fly the helicopter, but firefighters generally do not fly in windy conditions near mountains for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, a winter weather advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. today for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Forecasters said the tradewinds will weaken in the second half of the week and a typical tradewind pattern is expected for Christmas Day.

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