Brush fire in remote area of Central Oahu officially contained

(Photo: Department of Land and Natural Resources)

UPDATE: The fire has been contained as of Friday afternoon and it is no longer spreading, according to Jared Underwood of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Fire investigators from California were reported on the scene on Sunday and will continue to monitor the fire for the next five days as hot spots are gradually put out.

According to Underwood, the incident is deemed a federal firefight with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leading the efforts.

Crews are also preparing a plan to address restorations efforts for the remote area.

Underwood says 450 acres have burned so far.

Federal firefighters continue fighting a persistent wildland fire located in the Kipapa drainage above Mililani Mauka, including parts of the Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

Approximately 430 acres of mostly intact native forest had burned to date. Responders are trying to contain the fire using ground based firefighters and aerial water drops from helicopters. Federal firefighters have flown in from Hawaii Island and the mainland to assist in the management of the fire. These firefighters have specialized training in wildland fire management and suppression.

The fire poses no threat to populated areas adjacent to the fire location.

As of Monday morning, cost of suppression efforts is $70,000 and the fire is 50 percent contained.

The 4,775 acre refuge is managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and protects habitat for several native bird species such as the ‘elepaio, threatened and endangered plants, and endangered tree snails. The area burning is a mixed ‘ohia koa forest with other native species present such as ‘uluhe fern, loulu, iliahi (sandalwood), and halapepe.

This native forest cover protects Hawaii’s watersheds and allows rainfall to slowly recharge the aquifer.

When native forests burns in a wildland fire, the soil erodes into streams and out onto reefs, causing damage far beyond the burn site. Recovering native vegetation is hindered by invasive plant species which quickly recolonize the site and often are both more prone to burning and better adapted to survive fire, resulting in a destructive cycle of wildland fires.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

(Photo: Department of Land and Natural Resources)
(Photo: Department of Land and Natural Resources)
Photo: Benoit Weber
Photo: Benoit Weber

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