Paradise Burning

Last night as OC and I were driving home from his Octoberfest gig, we noticed lights on the mountainside where lights had never been. I said, “Is that fire?” OC said, “I can’t tell, but I’ve never noticed lights there before.” As the highway twisted and curved down the coast, the lights would come into and out of view behind small hills. After several miles I said, “I think it is fire. The lights seem to be moving.” OC concurred, adding, “And it’s hazy, like a bush fire.”

I was incredibly sleepy and soon lost interest. I was just about asleep when OC said, “You better hope that isn’t fire.” I blinked my eyes, tried to focus and muttered, “Why?” OC said, “Because it is right about where our house should be.” Again the coast and highway curved and the mountainside disappeared from view. I waited impatiently as we curved around a small hill.

Finally, several miles down the road I could clearly see. I said, “It’s fire.” At the same time OC said, “At least we still have the car.”

We were surprised to find the Makaha Valley Road open to traffic. We made the turn fully expecting to be stopped halfway up. We drove all the way to our complex. OC stopped at the guard kiosk and asked if there were any evacuation plans we needed to know about. The guard shrugged her shoulders. She said, “They tell us we’re safe. This isn’t bad. You should have seen it a couple of years ago.” Then she added. “Go home. If anything changes we’ll be knocking on doors. But don’t expect us. I think this is going to be out in about three hours.”

We came home. OC decided to take a walk and see how close the fire was to Kili Road, which runs behind our complex. I went to bed. If I was going to have to move in the middle of the night, I wanted some sleep first.

I woke this morning to the whomp-whomp-whomp of a helicopter. As my eyes opened OC said, “We have no power.” We got up and went to the porch. The mountain was still smoldering, but everything looked to be under control. It was very early, so we went back to bed.

Again I woke to the whomp-whomp-whomp of a helicopter. We couldn’t see it from our bedroom window. The sky was no longer filled with smoke. OC thought they were probably looking for hot spots. I went onto the porch and found their hot spot. The fire had moved on up the valley, away from the condos, and was burning across the ridge near the high rent district. The whomp-whomp-whomp was from the Fire and Rescue helicopter, which was refilling its water bucket just below our condo.

OC and I went for a walk about noon and took a few photographs. The blackened earth in this photograph is fire scorched ground. I was standing in the road by the curb when I snapped this shot.

This is our apartment. The red roof is over the staircase that leads to our door. The white wall to the right is the outside wall to our bedrooms. I took this photo from the roadside just a few feet from where I took the first photo. According to OC and Google Earth, the fire came within 400 feet of the place we rent. Even so, after his walk last night he came home and slept peacefully because he knew that within that 400 feet there was a row of fire trucks — seven or eight — bumper to bumper, pouring water into the fire. Plus, most of the 400 feet in question was road and fire break. And, the trade winds were blowing the fire down the hill, parallel to, not towards, the housing complex.

I snapped this photo one second too soon, or you could have seen the water cascade onto the hot spot and the billow of smoke that rose from the ground. There were two choppers flying this morning and the pilot in this one knew his stuff. He was zipping through the sky. He would fly past our building and swoop down to fill his bucket, barely pausing his forward motion. The other fellow must have been a rookie at fire fighting. He struggled filling the bucket, bobbing up and down in the air. He also clearly struggled raising back into the air with a full load. However, he stayed at it all day.

Here’s a close up of the chopper above. OC had a chance to briefly talk to the pilot and another fire fighter. He thanked them for all of their hard work.

Here you see the chopper on the ground while the pilot takes a break. The big container to the right is a portable water reservoir hooked up to a fire hose. Between the chopper and the reservoir is the Bambi Bucket used to carry water to the fire.

The choppers finally quit flying about 6:30 tonight. That’s dusk, and it doesn’t linger long around here. One second the sun is out and the next the world is dark. I’ve been outside and see no ominous glowing spots. The sky isn’t lighter up the valley than it is down here. The fire may be out.

8:54 p.m. update — three fire engines, sirens running, just screamed past our place and went behind the Makaha Towers, a glass and steel skyscraper that, in my opinion, mucks up the neighborhood view. Still, despite thinking it’s an eye sore, I would hate to see it burn down. A lot of people live up there.


  1. Nessa — this is all we got:

    Makaha fire shifts to mountains. The Makaha blaze from Friday afternoon continued to burn through yesterday evening, but no homes were threatened.

    About 60 Honolulu firefighters and two helicopters battled the blaze, which had engulfed about 300 acres by last night.

    The fire was about 70 percent contained, said fire spokesman Capt. Frank Johnson. Most crews were sent home last night, Johnson said, but some firefighters remained to monitor hot spots.

    The fire was first reported at 3:12 p.m. Friday behind the Makaha Valley Towers. The blaze moved away from the residential area throughout the night. Residents reported thick smoke from the brush fire blanketed the area Friday night.

    “It’s far from the towers now, and it’s up in the mountain areas,” Johnson said yesterday. “It’s nowhere near any homes.” Star Bulletin

    Polona — indeed. And they seemed a bit embarrassed about accepting our appreciation, but they deserve it.

  2. Silly me, I thought it was much to humid there for fires. We seldom have a problem here in Georiga because of high humidity……but this summer I suppose it could have even happened here it was so dry.

    That is pretty scarey though to come that close to where you live, a shift of the wind…..and whoosh, you are on your roof with the firehose. I saw it happen in Malibu a dozen times……

  3. Nea — we are on the leeward (dry side) of the island. Most of the rain falls on the windward side. Really the fire wasn’t all that scary because it was easy to see the firemen were in control.

  4. Mumma, I used to live in Oz. Compared to your bush fires, this Makaha Valley thing is a crisps packet burning in a rubbish bin. The principal issue is the smoke.

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