Posted on Nov 28, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – By the end of today, firefighters from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) expect to have a wild fire burning in the Honolulu Forest Reserve 100% contained.

The fire, called the Kahauiki Last Char fire, started on land below the forest reserve on Thanksgiving Day and by Friday had moved to State lands, where DOFAW has primary responsibility for firefighting efforts. Between 10 and 21 firefighters and support staff have been involved in the response since noon on Friday.

DOFAW Incident Commander Jason Misaki said today crews were putting water, by hand and by helicopter, on stubborn hot spots still burning or smoking in the Ironwood-dominated forest. The fire sped up the ridge behind the Kam IV Apartments in Kalihi before crossing an access road on top and “slopping” over the other side. Below are hundreds of homes at Ft. Shafter.

“We are fortunate that there is a road at the top of the ridge,” Misaki said. That allowed equipment and personnel to have relatively easy access. They set up two portable water tanks which a contract helicopter and the Honolulu Fire Department Air One chopper used for water drops on hot spots.

Most of the work the last two and a half days involved holding fire lines and one-by-one looking for smokers and hot spots and then dispatching crews to put them out.

Using hand tools, they dug in the soil and placed their hands near the ground to feel for heat. Then using water from a 300-gallon truck-mounted tank, firefighters strung water line through the dense forest and doused hot spots.

Misaki said this fire is a reminder of how quickly wildfire can break out and spread, even in urban areas like Honolulu. Much of the now charred ridge has downtown Honolulu as a backdrop. “Ten years ago, it was unusual for us to be fighting fire in November. Now we’re called out pretty much every month, so there’s no longer a set fire season,” Misaki explained.

Despite light rain which helped stamp down the flames, Misaki says forest vegetation around most of Hawai‘i is really dry and it will take significant winter rains to reserve course. The Kalihi area fire, by Misaki’s estimation, charred about 50 acres. A team of DOFAW wildland firefighters is expected to be on the scene Monday on fire watch to ensure the fire is out cold.

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD video – Kahauiki Last Char fire and Jason Misaki SOTs (Nov. 28, 2021):


Photographs – Kahauiki Last Char fire (Nov. 28, 2021):


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