Update #1 - March 18, 2011
Fire Overview: Start Date – March 5, 2011 at 2PM. The Napau fire is approximately seven miles east of the Kilauea Visitor Center, located in the East Rift Zone (Lat/Lon: 19⁰ 22'29" x 155⁰ 7' 25"; el. 2450).
It is a lava caused wildfire resulting from the March 5, 2011, volcanic activity along the Kamoamoa Fissure of the East Rift of Kilauea volcano. Near the vents, molten rock pools and flows have resulted in vegetation fires. The fire continues to burn with periodic trade winds pushing the fire to the south south/west. Approximately 1833 acres have burned and there is no estimated containment date.
Strategy: Planning efforts are focused on scouting, monitoring (i.e. fuel samples) and exploring all suppression options. Fire managers will continue to coordinate fire efforts with USGS eruption activity and monitor air quality. The vegetation fires will continue to burn under the influence of the radiant heat generated by the lava flow. As the distance from the lava flow increases, the high live fuel moistures inhibit fire spread. Sulfuric Dioxide gases increase the vegetation mortality which has been already stressed from the drought of 2010.
Values to be protected: Values include remnant native rainforest and other mesic forests that contain some of the only known population of threatened and endangered species, such as Hawaiian jewel orchid, rare lobelioids and mints. Others include rare endemic bird species Hawaiian hawk, Hawaiian honeycreeper, and Hawaii's only endemic terrestrial mammal, the Hawaiian hoary bat. A high priority fire strategic protection goal is the East Rift Special Ecological Area (SEA), which has been intensively managed to exclude invasive species and protect and restore high valued native plants and animal communities.
Fire Resources: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park firefighters are being augmented with fire crews from Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and fire qualified Hawai'i Volcanoes employees.
Air and Smoke: Smoke is visible to areas in and outside of the park. Transport winds have moved smoke that is visible in Kona and Hilo, particularly in the afternoon hours. The Chain of Craters road is closed at Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu to visitors to minimize air quality health issues and safe driving through dense smoke. In addition to smoke, air quality is constantly monitored in regards to sulfur dioxide emissions from volcanic activity.
Closures: Chain of Craters Road at Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu
Partners Involved: US Geological Service.