Waikoloa, Hawaii — About 400 people who fled a ragingbrush fire were allowed to return to their homes along the coast of Hawaii’slargest island as firefighters sought to bring the blaze under control Sunday.
No homes were damaged and no one was injured by the fires, which appeared tohave been set early Sunday along several miles of coastal highway, said DuaneHosaka, staff officer for Hawaii County Civil Defense.
Although the danger to seaside homes in the Puako community had passed, threefires continued to burn out of control Sunday night over more than 2,000 acresof land, said Hawaii County Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry Lum.
Nine fires were set in dry grasses within minutes of one another by one ormore motorists, Lum said.
“Just because of the nature of it and the amount of fires starting atthe same time, it looks suspicious,” Lum said. “But right now, we haveno evidence.”
Puako resident Bill Pollman said he found his home covered in smoke Sundayafter spending time with his sister in California, who had needed to evacuateher house because of fires there.
“This was just amazing,” Pollman said. “I was really lookingforward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.”
Two shelters were opened at a school and community center, although one ofthem was closed because no one was using it, Hosaka said.
“During the day we get hardly anyone who needs shelter. People justdon’t want to go too far from their homes,” said Tom Kaneo, who worked withthe American Red Cross at the shelter at Waikoloa Elementary School.
Several parks were closed, including Hapuna Beach, Wailea Bay and SpencerBeach Park. Campers staying there had to be evacuated, although no count wasavailable.
Three of the original nine fires couldn’t be contained after more than 15hours of firefighting efforts.
“The fire is knocked down, but not contained or controlled,” Lumsaid. “It’s still actively burning.”