comscore Hawaii island wildfire in Waimea expected to be 85% contained tonight
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Hawaii island wildfire in Waimea expected to be 85% contained tonight

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The 50-mph gusts that helped fan the flames of one of the largest wildfires in recent Hawaii island history were nonexistent today.

Troy Gibson, incident commander for the nearly 40,000-acre Mana Road fire in Waimea, said gusts had slowed today to 20 mph, rain was falling in some areas, and the weather should be more favorable.

“We have the fire surrounded,” with a firebreak cut around the entire perimeter, although it “needs to be cleaned up,” he said this evening.

“The fire should be 85% contained by the end of tonight,” Gibson said.

“It’s massive,” he said, adding it’s the largest one in the 17 years he’s been with the county fire department. “The sheer magnitude of the size of the fire, it’s impressive to look at a fire that big.”

Prior to this fire, the 25,000-acre Waikoloa fire in 2005 was the island’s largest, according to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization’s website.

The incident management team, made up of the Hawaii County Fire Department, Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Army’s Pohakuloa Fire Department, worked with their personnel on the fire.

Sixty county firefighters responded today, and during the massive inferno, upward of 80 volunteer units battled the flames.

“A lot of it wasn’t accessible, so those dozers and aerial assets were the real champions of these kinds of fires,” Gibson said.

He said private helicopters along with the county’s fire helicopters and the Army’s Black Hawks made water drops over the last five days.

Gibson said there were no reports of injuries to civilians or first responders.

The wildfire was 75% contained as of 11 a.m. today, according to county spokesman Cyrus Johnasen, who reported two homes destroyed.

Gibson was aware of one home destroyed in the Puukapu Homesteads subdivision, although there may have been some sheds or other smaller structures burned.

Firefighters are in the fifth day of battling the large fire that broke out near Mana Road in the Waimea area Friday. The fire has stabilized and is no longer deemed a threat to residents and property.

All roadways also have reopened.

Johnasen said they are working with the community directly impacted by the blaze. Officials are requesting affected residents, ranchers and others to submit a damage assessment form at:

Parker Ranch Inc. also reported the wildfire burned thousands of acres of pasture land and killed animals. An exact number of animals killed was not immediately available, however the ranch believes the number is less than 100.

“It appears some animals were lost to this fire as the torrent of winds pushed the fire faster than resources could move to confront it,” Parker Ranch said in a Facebook post. “We are conducting a damage assessment of the infrastructure destroyed and analyzing the potential impacts on our operations.”

Johnasen warned more wildfires could occur due to drought conditions. He reminds the public, especially residents in drier areas, to be prepared and have an evacuation plan in place.

Forecaster Derek Wroe of the National Weather Service saidwind conditions are expected to slightly decrease to 15 to 20 mph in the next couple of days or so.

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