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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

Ordnance risk limits firefighting on Schofield range

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Unexploded ordnance has hampered ground crew efforts to put out a brushfire that started late Sunday at a Schofield Barracks training range and made it necessary to fight the fire mainly by helicopter, the Army said yesterday.

The fire started while the 442nd Infantry Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve was training from Firing Point 211 on the military range at the base of the Wai'anae mountains. Soldiers were firing 81 mm mortars at the time.

Officials with the 25th Infantry Division (Light) said yesterday afternoon that the fire, which burned about eight acres, was 95 percent contained.

Four helicopters and about 50 range-control and federal firefighting crew members were battling the brushfire.

The ground route to the fire has unexploded ordnance on it, the Army said, and as a result, the fire has been fought from the air. The fire also is in a heavily wooded area, and officials said the safest method of containing its spread is by using helicopters with water buckets.

The Army was continuing to target hot spots yesterday with water buckets, as well as areas ahead of the fire to keep it from spreading.

The Army said the use of 81 mm mortars is a standard part of training there. The cause of the fire is being investigated.