In a prepared press release, Hawaii County Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira says that crews are agressively attacking a major brush fire several miles above the Kealakekua Ranch Center. The fire is in a remote location at the 4,000-foot elevation. Currently, around 1,000 acres are reported to be on fire. Smoke from the fire can be seen from Waimea to South Kona. Five bulldozers, three helicopters, a 4,000-gallon tanker, assorted off-road equipment, and personnel from the ranch and land owner have joined in the effort to contain the fire.
The Hawaii County Council wants to do more research before it considers a bill to prevent Big Island businesses from providing shopping bags to their customers. Members of the council’s Environmental Management Committee decided to postpone Bill 193 until their meeting on February 2nd in Hilo.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi has asked state lawmakers for $31.3 million to expand hospital emergency rooms and to build water and road projects on the Big Island. Kenoi tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that he wants a continued spirit of parnership and unity to withstand the financial crisis facing both county and state governments. The State Legislature opens January 21st.
The El Nino weather phenomenon remains in full effect with East Hawaii experiencing dry, warm, and hazy weather. National Weather Service forecaster Kevin Kodama tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that conditions have been unusually dry since mid-December. The Climate Prediction Center has classified this year’s El Nino as “moderate.”
Police tell the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that the two young children of a couple who died in an apparent murder-suicide were in the Piihonua home when the incident took place in the driveway. Kaylee-Marie Batalona, age 7, and her 6-year-old brother, Koran Batalona, were inside the home on December 30th when Harry Batalona, Jr. allegedly shot his estranged girlfriend, Jolene Medeiros, and then turned a rifle on himself.
The local company that pioneered the raising of amberjack in open-ocean pens off the Kohala Coast will sell its offshore farming operations in Hawaii. According to the “Honolulu Advertiser”, Kona Blue Water Farms, which recently began shifting production to Mexico after running into financial difficulties, plans to sell its ocean farm operation to a San Francisco-based company led by two mainland businessmen. Both men are involved in fishing and aquaculture industries.
Marine experts tell “West Hawaii Today” that they are searching waters along the Kona Coast for a humpback whale entangled with polypropylene line, dflated buoys, and assorted fishing gear. Justin Viezbicke of the NOAA Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary says every entanglement is life-threatening at some point. Experts warned against anyone trying to free the whale themselves. The disentanglement process is dangerous and requires a special permit.
Notice to motorists: Komohana Street in Hilo, between Kukuau Street and Ponahawai Street will be closed for 5 nights, starting January 10th, from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. For details, call Kyle at 960-2828. Also, the state Department of Transportation advises Big Island motorists of single lane closures on Queen Kaahumanu Highway from Lako Street to Henry Street through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for pavement marking and guardrail installation. Motorists are advised to use caution in this area and to allow extra travel time.