Wildfire that began in Lualualei naval base burns for third day, damage to cultural center and explosions reported

The wildfire in Waiʻanae continues to burn.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports:

Fire crews were busy in Waianae Valley this morning as Oahu’s largest wildfire of the year burned for a third day.

At least one Marine Corps CH-53 helicopter was to rejoin the Honolulu Fire Department’s air operations this morning, the Navy said.

Nine people took refugee in a Red Cross Shelter at Waianae District Park Tuesday night.

The flames are burning on two fronts — along the back of Waianae Valley into the forest reserve and another on the side of the ridge closer to Waianae Valley Road.

Firefighters were responding to brush fire calls on both sides of Waianae Valley. One flare-up was reported near Kamaile street on the Makaha side of the valley, a valley resident said.

Since Monday, the blaze has destroyed nearly 1,200 acres of brush in both Waianae and Lualualei Valleys.

According to the paper, “the fire began on government property near the Lualualei Naval Magazine at 1 p.m. Monday.”

It spread to the neighboring Waiʻanae valley and destroyed the traditional hale pili (thatched structure) at the Learning Center at Kaʻala, one of our partners in the Waiʻanae Environmental Justice Working Group:

Butch DeTroy, manager of the Kaala Farms Cultural Learning Center on Waianae Valley Road, said the wildfire destroyed an A-frame grass hale Tuesday that had been used as a classroom for up to 60 students.

The fire also destroyed half of a two-mile pipeline that supplies water to Kaala Farms taro fields on its 98-acre property.

DeTroy said he was forced to leave area Tuesday morning before the fire swept through his property.

Firefighters were able to save a kitchen facility, but the grass hale, which was 30 feet high, was destroyed.

DeTroy said a stream that borders the Waianae Kai Forest Reserve probably prevented the fire from creeping down the moutain into the nature preserve — home to native koa, sandalwood and aalii.

But the newspaper failed to report on the explosions.   Gary Forth of MAʻO organic farm and environmental activist Carroll Cox reported witnessing explosions on the Lualualei Naval Base.   Lucy Gay of the Leeward Community College Waiʻanae extension wanted to know, where is the Navyʻs disaster plan for such dangerous materials? And if there are disaster safety plans, why wasn’t the community apprised of them?



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