Firefighters Trying to Protect Wildlife Preserve near Honolulu

Sept. 02--Firefighters continue to battle a brush fire on the northern slope of Waianae Mountain range which threatens the Honouliuli Preserve, which is home to endangered wildlife and plants.

The Makakilo blaze flared up over the holiday weekend.

Capt. Dave Jenkins, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman, said conservative estimates suggests at least 1,025 acres have burned. The head of the fire is near the 2,000-foot elevation on the Kunia side of the mountain range.

Ten fire companies, with 38 personnel, including 12 specialists form the Department of Land and Natural Resources are working to extinguish the fire.

Helicopters from the Fire Department, Police Department and DNLR are dropping water on the fire, which is mostly inaccessible because of its remote location and dense undergrowth.

Jenkins said the city hopes to contract several more private helicopters to assist in the water drops on Tuesday.

The fire is moving slowly in a northern direction and is about a quarter mile from the Honouliuli Preserve -- a diverse forest where 35 threatened and endangered species live, including 16 found nowhere else in the world. The wildlife includes the endangered Oahu Elepaio (forest bird, which is a symbol of Hawaiian canoe-making) and the endangered "singing" kahuli tree snail.

There are no homes threatened by the blaze, Jenkins said.

Two 7-year-old brothers, playing with a lighter they had found, started the fire 11 days ago.

The boys' father issued a public statement the day after acknowledging his sons' involvement, urging parents to speak with children about fire safety, and expressing concern for those whose homes were initially threatened by the blaze.

At one point nearly two weeks ago the fire caused the evacuation of about 20 houses on and around Umena Street as well as another 20 cabins and other structures at Camp Timberline.

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