“Still not out of the woods”

Brushfire Update – Sunday Night 9:00

By Dan Murphy

After a long day of battling flames many homes and neighborhoods have been spared, but the fight is far from over. Molokai Fire Chief Val Martin estimated that the fire has already covered over 6,000 acres – or almost 10 square miles – and is still spreading.

"We're still not out of the woods yet," Martin said. "This fire is not under control or contained a this point."

The most dangerous arm of the conflagration is on its western edge at this point. The highway is closed off to all traffic at Coconut Grove for the night. The Fire Department decided to keep the road closed in case the fire gets close enough to cross the road. The flames are currently about a mile west of Coconut Grove near the Plumeria Farm. 

Mitchell Pauole Center and Molokai High School have been opened as shelters for those who cannot return to their homes tonight. 

Crews have been focusing on this area since it started, but are still keeping an eye on the other side of the fire near Kawela and Kamehameha V Highway towards the east.

The 70-man team has been working around the clock and has successfully extinguished all flames near Kawela and the highway.However, the ground near those areas is still covered in hot spots that could spark at any moment. Martin said that 35 personnel will remain to work through the night. 

The five helicopters that spent the day circling the island and dropping water are down for the night. The choppers can not fly in the dark and will resume their dawn-to-dusk schedule tomorrow morning. 

Molokai's Fire Department received helped from a wide variety of groups throughout the day including Dept. of Public Works,  Goodfellows, State Highway, Dept. of Forestry and many others. There have been no further reports of structural damage since an outdoor garage burned at the Visario residence early Sunday morning. 

Check back with the Dispatch tomorrow morning for continuous updates. 



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