Hawaii Brushfire Fighting Tab Nears Half-Million Dollars

HONOLULU (AP) -- State officials say the total cost of fighting a series of summer brushfires on Oahu and the Big Island has neared an estimated half-million dollars.

More than half of this year's brushfires have been in west Oahu. Investigators believe the majority have been deliberately set.

''I would say that this is the biggest, longest and costliest brushfire season we've had,'' said Eddie Chung-Hoon, who's in charge of coordinating federal fire grant applications for the State Civil Defense agency.

Two of Oahu's 700-plus brushfires this year have been so costly that island has applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency fire grant that will pay for 75 percent of the expenses.

Chung-Hoon estimates Oahu has already qualified for FEMA grants that will give it at least $200,000 to cover the cost of fighting two August fires.

One was a Nanakuli blaze that consumed nearly 3,000 acres. The other was a raging Kipapa Gulch fire that burned 200 acres and sent smoke into the Royal Kunia, Village Park and Waikele neighborhoods.

The state's costs this season:

For now, Chung-Hoon said it's not possible to guess this season's total brushfire tab. He only knows it will be high.

''To be honest we really don't have the figures yet,'' he said. ''Next week, I'm calling a huddle with the county guys to start talking about the collection process. I've got to brief them on the process on how to submit the costs.''

Information from: The Honolulu Advertiser

Copyright 2005 Associated Press