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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, July 21, 2003

Firefighters on five islands battle wind-whipped blazes

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

As summer heat and wind bore down on the islands this weekend, firefighters across the state kept slugging it out with brush fires.

Some of the fires may have been intentionally set.

The largest, a 10,000-acre fire that sprang up near South Point on the Big Island, was held at bay yesterday as firefighters kept watch over hot spots, putting down flareups as the trade winds gusted.

On O'ahu, firefighters extinguished three Leeward brush fires on Saturday, then fought another three yesterday.

Kaua'i firefighters worked six hours to extinguish a 1,200-acre brush fire Saturday in Kealia. The fire was called in at 1 p.m.

Maui firefighters worked throughout the day yesterday to combat a brushfire in Wailuku. No information was available on its size.

Lana'i firefighters extinguished a small blaze that flared up on a lot yesterday afternoon. Moloka'i reported no fires.

The first O'ahu brush fire was reported near Roosevelt Avenue at Kalaeloa (formerly known as Barbers Point) about 8:30 a.m., said HFD Capt. Kenison Tejada. Firefighters had it under control within half an hour and limited it to five acres.

The next call was to Kili Drive in Makaha, near the Makaha Valley Condominiums, Tejada said. The call came at 2:16 p.m. and the fire burned 10 acres.

The third fire was called six minutes later, near Makua Cave off Farrington Highway. It burned 20 acres and crossed over the ridge into the military reservation.

The fires that burned on Saturday were close together on the Leeward side and were reported within a couple of hours of each other.

Firefighters consider arson a possibility.

"You could say it is suspicious," Tejada said.

The Big Island fire was also considered suspicious. It began Friday and was quickly fanned into a 10,000-acre blaze by wind gusts that sometimes reached 35 miles per hour. A number of houses were threatened, families were evacuated and livestock may have been killed.

Rain that moved across the Big Island Saturday afternoon may have helped, said Hans Rosendal, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.