comscore Big Isle firefighters rescue opihi pickers in treacherous operation | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Big Isle firefighters rescue opihi pickers in treacherous operation

Firefighters used high-angle rope techniques to get down a 100-foot shoreline cliff in heavy rain and darkness early today to rescue two opihi pickers, one clinging halfway up the cliff in Laupahoehoe on Hawaii island.

No one was seriously injured in the treacherous operation on the Hamakua Coast, officials said.

The two men had climbed down a steep, 100-foot embankment in the Waipunalei area and then used ropes themselves to scale down the vertical cliff below in their quest for opihi, according to a Hawaii County Fire Department press release.

The call for help came in at 12:51 a.m. and firefighters were on the scene by 1 a.m. Rescuers used high-angle rope techniques, which include pulleys, harnesses and belay devices, to get to the men and hoist them up.

A fire rescueman was lowered to pick the first man off the face of the cliff, about 50 feet above the ocean. The other opihi picker was lifted from the shoreline, tended by a Hawaii Fire Department rescueman.

“Throughout the rescue, heavy rain contributed to the hazardous rescue,” HFD said in a news release. “Neither victim had injuries requiring transport to a medical facility.”

Ten fire personnel were involved in the rescue, with five units, including an engine, a medic unit, heavy rescue, rescue utility and battalion chief. No injuries were reported.

The incident took place at the 28 mile marker on Highway 19. The last unit returned to the firehouse at 4:40 a.m.

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