Leilani fire on Hawaiʻi Island burns 16,800, now 60% contained
The Leilani wildfire in the Waikoloa area of Hawaiʻi Island has burned 16,800 acres and is now 60% contained as of 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022.
42 firefighters were back on the lines today in their effort to control the fire, which started on Wednesday and was initially fueled by dry fountain grass and strong, gusty winds.
There are no estimates for full control of the fire.
Six helicopters, five bulldozers, and 13 engines, brush trucks, and water tenders were available today to supplement manpower on the ground.
Control work today included:
- Continuing creating breaks on the south side of fire.
- Preventing fire from escaping containment line.
- Secure breaks behind dozers with burning operations.
- Chainsaw work to reduce heavy fuels in the ʻōhiʻa forest on the south side.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources reports that the rough terrain was hindering the ability of dozers to effectively cut fire line. No structures or communities were threatened at last report.
Nick Agorastos, the manager of Hawai‘i Island Natural Area Reserves for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, says the area, on the border of the South Kohala and North Kohala districts has always been fire prone.
“This area exists in what most consider drought conditions due to its geography and rain patterns. The area averages 25-inches of rain annually, so it is perpetually dry. Fire can pop up almost any day of the year,” Agorastos explained.
He added that blazes like the Leilani fire are fueled by fire loving and adapted species, like fountain grass
“Any uptick in the frequency of fires, is likely due to changes in local weather and climate,” he said.