Lightning strikes spark wildfires at Army training area in Hawaii
Stars and Stripes February 14, 2023
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – A day-old pair of wildfires continued to rage through a military training range Monday on Hawaii’s Big Island as three Army helicopters joined the firefighting effort.
The fires, caused by lightning strikes, had burned about 1,500 acres at the Pohakuloa Training Area, the Army said in a news release Monday.
The 132,000-acre training area is operated by the Army but used by all the services for live-fire training. No troops are currently training on the site, the Army said.
The fires were roughly 5% contained as of Monday morning, the Army said.
Firefighters must contend with strong trade winds that have swept the state during the past week but are expected to weaken after Tuesday.
Two UH-60 Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook from 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, were dispatched to the training area Monday morning, the Army said.
They will join several helicopters operated by local firefighters in dropping water on the blaze.
The fires are east of Highway 190 and pose no threat to communities at this point, the Army said.
Highway 190 traverses the northwest portion of the island, and to its west lies a more populated area near the coastline.
Wildfires are not unusual on the Big Island nor for the training area.
In August, high winds drove a wildfire that burned almost 20,000 acres that included portions of the Pohakuloa Training Area.
A fire at the training area last spring burned 600 acres.