Crews respond to brush fire flare-up

A series of brush fires that kept firefighters busy last week rekindled Sunday night, forcing crews to return to the area west of the Omaopio and Pulehu road junction, fire officials said.

The flare-up at about 8:30 p.m. occurred inside the perimeter of one of three fires, about a half-mile to a mile apart, that began Oct. 9, Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said.

Firefighters were able to stop the fire’s spread early Monday after it consumed about 40 additional acres of brush and fallow sugar cane about a mile west of the junction, he said. That brought the total acreage burned to 140.

Although the fire was declared 100 percent contained Thursday afternoon and has not spread beyond firebreaks carved out by bulldozers, large areas of unburned fuel remain inside containment lines, Taomoto said. That is where flare-ups have been occurring.

In addition, difficult-to-reach areas with large kiawe trees and heavy brush on the mauka edges were making it challenging for firefighters to fully extinguish the fires, Taomoto said.

Firefighters have not called the fires extinguished because of smoldering areas within the firelines. They expect to be continuing mop-up operations through the end of the week due to gusty winds forecast in the coming days, he said.

Engine and hazmat crews and water tankers from Kula, Kahului and Wailea were at the scene Monday and were assisted by water drops from the Fire Department’s Air One helicopter, Taomoto said. County Public Works and Goodfellow Bros. bulldozers helped cut firebreaks.

Firefighters were to patrol areas overnight Monday.

The cause of the fires is undetermined.