USA — HONOLULU — Emergency officials evacuated several neighborhoods in Kohala on the Big Island temporarily Friday because of a large brush fire.
The fire burned about 630 acres of land in the Kawaihae area, officials said.
At first, it spread quickly because of wind gusts up to 40 mph, officials said. But then the winds dropped and changed direction, pushing the fire back into areas that had already burned.
“We kind of lucked out there,” said Hawaii County Fire Chief Glen Honda.
The blaze might have been caused by a spark from a lawn mower, he said.
Police closed several roadways because of the fire, including Kawaihae Road from Waiaka Road to Queen Kaahumanu Highway.
Late Friday afternoon, people evacuated from Kawaihae Village and Kawaihae Transitional Homes.
The general manager of Hapuna Resort and Mauna Kea Beach Hotel said the hotels did not evacuate guests. However, people who live in communities near Hapuna Golf Course evacuated at the recommendation of fire officials.
Ten people evacuated to a shelter at Waikoloa Elementary School and three people went to a second shelter at Waimea Community Center, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.
Fire officials allowed people to return to their homes shortly before 6 p.m. Friday.
Hawaii County Fire Chief Glen Honda says luckily, the winds died down quickly and changed direction, turning the flames back into the already-burned area.
“It also shifted and it went across the road and then it shifted again and brought it back. So we were fortunate that the winds didn’t continue the way they were doing. So we kind of lucked out there,” said Glen Honda.
Fire crews remained on the scene overnight to make sure hot spots don’t flare up, Honda said. Two bulldozers also worked until late Friday night, securing fire breaks around the fire.
Forty firefighters worked to contain the flames at their height Friday afternoon, including 15 volunteers and four military firefighters.
No one was hurt and no property damage was reported firefighters said.