Flames burned 30 feet away from some Maili homes

By Cam Tran
Published On: Sep 20 2013 02:50:44 PM HST
Updated On: Sep 20 2013 07:21:16 PM HST

Panic in Leeward Oahu, after a brush fire burns dangerously close to several homes in Maili.

WAIANAE, Hawaii -

Smoke billowed into the dark early morning sky as flames consumed the dry brush in Maili Friday.

"We definitely worried about the homes because it was so close," said Tyler Strong, a resident who was evacuated due to the fire.

According to the Honolulu Fire Department, flames were as close as 30 feet away from homes on Mamoalii Place.

While 45 firefighters raced to put out the flames, some residents raced to safety.

About a dozen residents left as a precaution while others decided to stay to protect their homes.

"My husband and son went outside and started turning on the hoses of our home and our neighbor's home and started watering their roofs and their homes and even our homes to protect it from the ember and the fire coming," said Maili resident Daphne Kahawai-Tom.

One family watched from the roof as the fire crept closer.

"Luckily, this fire was a good 50 yards away from the home, but it was big enough to see it higher than our home," said Kahawai-Tom.  "It scared us to have us keep on staying and watering down the yards until the fire department came."

Firefighters contained the blaze by 7 a.m.  The fire burned 40 acres of land.

Though no homes were damaged, some Maili residents say this was too close of a call -- one that could have been prevented.

"All this area and the fire break is owned by DHHL (Department of Hawaiian Home Lands).  We've asked them over the years, our neighborhood association to ask them, to keep the fire break area nice and clean and we noticed it hasn't been," said Kahawai-Tom.

Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause but say the fire does not look suspicious at this point.

A DHHL spokesperson says a crew is assessing if the neighboring land belongs to them.  If so, the DHHL says, "We are going to take some action to make sure our fire breaks are up and we are protecting our neighbors and to make sure our land is protected as well."

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