Dozens of federal, state, and county firefighters are back on the lines this morning at the large Leilani wildfire.
Wildland fire teams from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) headed into the field a little after 8 a.m. after receiving a briefing, which included the day’s objectives and assignments.
On the ground, they’re being supported by the “big guns” of firefighting. Seven bulldozers are working to build fire lines around the blaze, and five military helicopters from the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) are dropping thousands of gallons of water on the hottest part of the fire.
Active fire has largely moved onto PTA land, after burning across the Pu‘u Anahula Game Management Area, in a region bounded by Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road), State Highway 190, and an 1859 lava flow. Fire managers hope that flow will act as a natural fire line should it reach that point.
The fire is being managed under a unified command between DOFAW, PTA, and the Hawai‘i Fire Dept.
During a briefing for more than two dozen DOFAW firefighters, Hawai‘i Island Branch Chief Steve Bergfeld, emphasized safety, saying, “Relative humidity is in the 25% range, and while winds currently are lower than the last two days, gusts of upwards of 20-25 miles an hour are forecast for later in the day.”
Bergfeld is currently doing an aerial assessment of the fire, but incident commanders are estimating it has burned 25,000 acres since sparking on Wednesday. They estimate that they have containment around 30% of the fire; meaning that’s how much fire line is built around it.