Thanks to immediate reports from local residents and hunters hunting in the Keamuku Maneuver Area (KMA) section of the U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) on February 12, 2023, the PTA Fire and Emergency Services (FES) Department responded quickly to the KMA Complex Fire. Hawai’i County, the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), Volunteers, the broader PTA team, and additional U.S. Army military helicopters flown in from Oahu were part of the team to contain the fire.
The KMA Complex Fire started at approximately 3:20pm on February 12, and consisted of two fires started by lightning strikes. The fires were 100 percent contained in the afternoon of February 15. Approximate total acres burned between the two fires are 1500-1800 acres.
The 25th Infantry Division’s 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) on Oahu provided three U.S. Army military helicopters to support the fire (2x UH-60 Blackhawks and 1x CH-47 Chinook), executing 222 water bucket drops, totaling over 200,000 gallons of water. The Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Blackhawk (HH-60) stationed at PTA for the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade’s training also provided support during the fire.
Almost 40 County, DLNR DOFAW, and Volunteer firefighters supported the KMA Complex Fire, in addition to the PTA staff and PTA tenant organization, the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, which kept the water dip tanks filled, moved dozers around the area, and kept them fueled. PTA dozer operators and contracted dozers worked tirelessly to build fire breaks and expand existing ones to prevent the spread of the fire and make it easier for first responder vehicles to maneuver on. Soldiers from the 569th Quartermaster Company supporting the 25th Infantry Division training at PTA went above and beyond to help provide breakfasts for everyone supporting the fire.
“It is extremely humbling to see community bonds strengthened during an emergency,” said Chief Travis Stewart, PTA FES fire chief. “Mahalo to all the first responders in helping us protect neighboring communities and preventing this fire from spreading further.”
“The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, which has primary wildfire suppression and attack responsibility for state forest lands, values the partnerships we have with federal and county fire agencies,” said Dan Dennison, DLNR Senior Communications Manager. “On Hawaii Island, this collaborative approach has been demonstrated time and time again on both big and small wildfires no matter where they start, and no matter which agency has primary jurisdiction.”
“Mahalo for the incredible teamwork of everyone involved in fighting this fire. From the brave firefighters to the incredible dozer operators, to the U.S. Army military helicopter crews sent over from Oahu, and the entire PTA team,” said PTA Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin. “Everyone’s team efforts are truly inspiring. We remain thankful to our incredible community for their support and are proud to be a member of this team of teams.”