Kahikinui Brush Fire Likely Rekindle From Fire in November
Maui firefighters responded to a report of smoldering brush on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, at the same site of a previous 25-acre brush fire reported more than two months ago on Nov. 30, 2015.
Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said, “Most of the grassy surface fuels had burned itself out, but there was evidence of an underground fire that firefighters found, up to two feet below the surface. Some areas were hot enough that you could not stand over it for very long. Organic matter such as roots below the surface can burn very hot, and for a very long time.”
He said the cause of Tuesday’s fire is believed to be a rekindle of underground organic matter from the brush fire in November of last year. “Although infrequent, it’s not uncommon to have an underground fire flare up days, weeks, or even months later,” said FSC Taomoto.
Fire officials say firefighters in Lahaina have gone back to smoldering underground fires at the old Olowalu Landfill and near the Ukumehame Firing Range, 6 months to over a year later.
Tuesday’s fire was reported at 7:30 p.m. in an area of smoldering brush near Mile 26 of the Piʻilani Highway, in Kahikinui.
Kula firefighters arrived at 8:13 p.m. and found a 50 by 60 foot area of smoldering grass at the site and used a type of foam and water solution to cool the deep-seated fire.
Fire officials say “Class A” foam is commonly used in firefighting and can penetrate and absorb into non-metal combustible materials much more effectively than plain water.
Fire officials say crews soaked the ground with the solution in the hopes of cooling the smoldering organic matter enough to extinguish it.
Crews also made periodic checks of the area looking for any signs of heat or smoke rising from the ground.