A large wildfire burns in Hawaii near Waimea on July 31, 2021.
© 25th Infantry Division/Handout
A large wildfire burns in Hawaii near Waimea on July 31, 2021.
A large wildfire is ripping through thousands of acres of dry brush in Hawaii County, prompting evacuations and threatening structures.

The 40,000-acre fire began on Friday morning near Mana Road in Waimea on the island of Hawaii. By Saturday, it had consumed over 10,000 acres and the Pu'u Kapu Hawaiian Homestead and Waiki'i Ranch areas were ordered to evacuate immediately.

Hawaii Fire Department Volunteer Captain John Bertsch told West Hawaii Today that at one point on Friday, one front of the fire reached four miles in length.

Two homes in the Department of Hawaiian Homelands Puukapu Subdivision were destroyed. The evacuation order in Waikoloa Village was lifted Sunday, but fire officials are cautioning residents and tourists to stay vigilant.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency tweeted Sunday morning warning South Kohala and Waikoloa Village to "prepare your homes for fire prevention."

"The fire area is moving west, north, and south due to wind conditions," the agency wrote in its Sunday incident report. "Please prepared your properties and remove any debris or exposed fuels to prevent ignition. Fire crews are actively back burning and creating fire breaks in the area."

High winds are pushing the flames across fire breaks, and thick smoke inhibiting visibility forced the closure of Old Saddle Road between Highway 190 and Daniel K. Inouye Highway. The National Weather Service's Honolulu office forecasts strong trade winds, with conditions improving starting Monday.

Conditions are so dry on parts of the island that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed Hilina Pali and Mauna Loa roads to vehicle traffic to mitigate fire danger.

"Staying safe while protecting the natural and cultural resources of the park is our top priority," said park fire management officer Greg Funderburk. "Fire danger indexes in both areas are above the 90th percentile and any ignitions that occur would be difficult to suppress and likely to result in a large fire."