The Keauhou Fire continues to burn within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and was most active on its northern front, threatening habitat for endangered native ʻiʻiwi birds.
Firefighters were aided by more than two inches of rain that fell Thursday and overnight, and some of the fire’s interior has been suppressed. However, firefighters continue to hold back active flames near the Kīpuka Kī Special Ecological Area, and to control active fire along Mauna Loa Road.
Crews are currently mapping containment and verifying exact acreage. On Thursday, the size of the fire was 3,679 acres, 51 percent contained, mostly within the park on the slopes of Mauna Loa.
The ʻiʻiwi is an endemic and endangered honeycreeper, with orange-red body plumage, black wings and a remarkable peach-colored curved beak it uses to feed from tubular flowers of native lobeliods and other plants. It also eats insects. The song of the ʻiʻiwi is often described as a rusty gate, and it can imitate other birds.
Southern California Team Two, a type II incident management team, joined the multi-agency efforts to manage the fire today. The crew now numbers 121 personnel. Cooperating agencies include the National Park Service, Hawaiʻi County Fire Dept., U.S. Fish & Wildlife, State Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), The Research Cooperation Unit of the University of Hawaiʻi, and volunteers from Volcano’s Company 19, and an all-military veterans crew out of Placerville, CA with the Bureau of Land Management.
Plumes of smoke remain visible from Highway 11, and motorists are urged to drive with caution, roll up windows and use air conditioning if possible, and to stop for emergencies only. The fire is approximately a mile north of Highway 11.
The cause of the fire, which started August 5 outside the park in Keauhou, is under investigation.
Photo: Fire burns native forest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as firefighters engage in suppression efforts. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser.