Massive wildfire burns amid drought on Hawaii’s Big Island

A massive wildfire is raging in a rural area on the Big Island of Hawaii.

High winds and dry conditions are making it difficult for crews to contain the blaze.

The fire started in the western part of the US Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area, above the town of Waikoloa and in between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes.

The fire burned more than 15 square miles.

Relatively small fires on humid tropical Pacific islands are on the rise, experts say, creating a cycle of ecological damage that affects vital and limited resources for millions of people. million inhabitants.

Wildfire in a rural area of ​​the Big Island of Hawaii (Hawaii Department of Land and Resources/AP/PA) (AP)

Officials say the fire started a few weeks ago and smoldered until strong winds fanned the blaze this week.

This area is mainly shrub and grassland which has been dry due to persistent drought.

“This fire is critical and it is bringing this entire first responder team together to halt its advances,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Cronin, commander of the US Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area. know.

Strong winds were recorded across the region, some exceeding 30 mph.

“Weather conditions are making it difficult for this fight to slow the fire’s progress, and our combined efforts are working to prevent it from approaching or crossing Highway 190,” China said. Colonel Col Cronin said.

The fire is currently burning on state land and about one mile off Highway 190, according to Big Island county officials.

The village of Waikoloa, a town of about 7,000 people on the other side of Highway 190, was evacuated last year when the state’s biggest-ever wildfire burned more than 70 square miles.

Crews are using bulldozers to create fires and several helicopters from different agencies are dropping water on the fire.

An Army spokesman said that while the area was undergoing military training, the cause of the fire was still being investigated.

“There are units up there training, I can’t confirm or deny whether there’s been live fire or not,” said Michael O Donnelly, the US Army’s head of foreign affairs, Garrison Hawaii. . “It’s business as usual, but the exact cause we don’t know.”

The National Weather Service issued a red alert for fire conditions in the area Thursday night.

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