UPDATE: AUG. 20, 1:45 p.m.
Army firefighters are still battling the wildfire, which as of this morning had burned about 120 acres of land near the reservation’s south ridge.
Six firefighters, two fire engines, two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and a contracted helicoper are engaging the fire, the army said in a news release today.
The fire is 50% contained and does not currently pose a threat to nearby facilities or people.
Army firefighters are responding to a wildfire burning at the Makua Military Reservation, the Army said in a news release.
The fire began at about 12:30 p.m. today near the south ridge of the reservation.
Army firefighters responded to the blaze and are fighting it with aerial support from the Wheeler Army Airfield-based 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is using helicopters to conduct water bucket drops, officials said.
According to the Army, about 40 acres have burned as firefighters work to contain the fire.
“Residents and motorists near Makua Military Reservation may see smoke in the sky, but there is no threat to nearby facilities or people at this time,” Army officials said. “As no active training or activities were taking place in the area, the cause of the fire is under investigation.”
The Makua Valley is sacred to Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners. In the Hawaiian oral tradition, the valley is the birthplace of the Hawaiian people. The Army’s use of the the land as a training ground has been controversial.
A 1998 lawsuit on behalf of the group Malama Makua — which has fought to evict the Army and return the land to Hawaii — brought a halt to live-fire exercises there with none being conducted since 2004.
In March, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele announced that he had introduced the Leandra Wai Act — named in honor of the late Malama Makua co-founder — which would require the Army to remediate Makua Military Reservation and return the land to Hawaii.