Honolulu firefighters were back out in Makakilo Monday, trying to prevent a four-day-old brushfire from flaring up again.
For now, the flames don’t pose an immediate threat to homes in the area.
The fire began on Friday afternoon, forced the evacuation of nearly two dozen homes and so far, according to the Honolulu Fire Department, scorched more than thousand acres of brush.
None of the homes were seriously damaged, but the cost of getting the fire under control is substantial.
One hundred firefighters battled the blaze on Friday, 80 on Saturday and 35 on Sunday. A department spokesperson says that amounts to at least 100 hours of overtime.
The State Department of Land and Natural Resources provided three helicopters for water drops and estimates the cost at more than $43,000, plus another $10,500 for the personnel, for a total of more than $54,000.
“This was a very large effort from a lot of different agencies to contain and mitigate this emergency,” said Capt. David Jenkins of the Honolulu Fire Department.
The fire could have been prevented if twin seven-year-old boys didn’t play with a lighter they found outside their home, a move that prompted their father to come forward with a public apology.
“We want parents to realize that this could happen to anyone and how important it is to discuss fire safety with their children. We will participate in a fire safety program with them. Sorry,” he said on Saturday.
The family will now go through a fire safety class with the fire department to discuss the dangers of playing with fire.
“The difference is delivery. It’s going to be a one-on-one education and anything else that we see is necessary in teaching them, we’ll work with them,” Capt. Jenkins said.
Children get fire safety lessons from a firefighters safety guide in school during Fire Prevention Week.
But Capt. Jenkins says parents need to talk about this with their children more than once a year and, if parents see their children showing some curiosity with fire, they need to sit down and talk to them.
Capt. Jenkins says what happened in Makakilo could happen to any family. “Children are very curious and fire is very interesting and they will explore things they will learn by touching seeing doing,” he said.
As for additional cost of the fire, federal firefighters pitched in and so did the Honolulu Police Department, which provided a helicopter to help with the water drops.