World

Hawaii firefighters continue to battle wildfire in mountainous Oahu

Helicopters have been dropping water to douse the wildfire (Dan Dennison/Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources via AP)
Helicopters have been dropping water to douse the wildfire (Dan Dennison/Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources via AP) Helicopters have been dropping water to douse the wildfire (Dan Dennison/Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources via AP)

A wildfire that has burned forests in a remote mountainous area of central Oahu has moved eastwards and away from population centres, Hawaii authorities said, as firefighters continued to battle the blaze.

The flames have not threatened homes or property, and no evacuations have been ordered, but they have scorched some native trees.

The main part of the fire was about four miles from the Mililani Mauka housing area and was headed away from it, the Honolulu Fire Department said.

Nearly two square miles have been burned so far by the blaze, which firefighters have been battling since Monday.

Helicopter drops water on a wildfire
Helicopter drops water on a wildfire Firefighters are continuing to battle the blaze (Dan Dennison/Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources via AP)

Three army helicopters have been dropping water on the fire and helicopters from the Honolulu Fire Department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service also doused flames from the air.

A Hawaii Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation plan released this week said the state has experienced longer droughts during the past 30 years, creating more dangerous conditions for wildfires.

The risk has increased further due to more frequent and intense El Nino events, which occur when parts of the Pacific Ocean warm and affect weather patterns worldwide, the report said.

Hawaii’s ecosystems evolved in the absence of frequent fires, and when native trees burn, they are often replaced by fire-prone invasive species.

In August, 99 people were killed and more than 2,000 structures were destroyed in Maui’s historic town of Lahaina when a wildfire fuelled by powerful winds quickly spread from dry brush in the hills towards the ocean.