The size of the brush fire at Keauhou Ranch has doubled overnight, scorching 3,205 acres within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
The fire broke out Sunday and continues to burn in several areas on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Jessica Ferracane, spokeswoman for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, said the fire is approaching the Kipuka Ki Special Ecological Area which is two miles north of Highway 11.
In a news release, Fire Management Matt Desimone said, “We are focusing our suppression efforts on Kipuka Ki and are working carefully to back the fire up against a natural barrier of wide hardened lava flow so it doesn’t progress further downslope.”
Strong, gusty winds and dry conditions have hampered efforts to control the fire.
Fire crews from the National Park Service and the Hawaii Island Incident Management team are continuing to battle the fire, which is 5 percent contained. The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife and volunteer firefighters are assisting.
Kipuka Ki, described as one of the rarest old-growth native forests of its kind in the world, is comprised of tall ohia, koa and manele trees that are vital to the survival of threatened and endangered plants and animals.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.