A fast-moving brush fire that has burned more than 40,000 acres on the Big Island of Hawaii prompted mandatory evacuations over the weekend, the authorities said. Although residents were allowed to return home on Sunday, they could be required to evacuate again if weather conditions worsen.
The fire, which started on Friday, destroyed at least two homes in the northern part of the island by Sunday evening, fire officials said. It is the largest brush fire on record for Hawaii County.
Mitchell Roth, the mayor of Hawaii County, issued an emergency proclamation and mandatory evacuation order on Saturday, requiring residents in the communities of Pu’u Kapu Hawaiian Homestead and Waikii Ranch to evacuate. A third community, Waikoloa, was also evacuated. All evacuation orders were lifted on Sunday evening.
There were over 150 personnel battling the blaze, Kazuo Todd, the fire chief for the Hawaii Fire Department, said in a news conference on Sunday. The National Guard was also requested to assist.
Winds in the northern part of the island have made conditions difficult for firefighters, he said, adding that he expected the fire to continue to grow.
Winds reaching up to 28 miles per hour and gusts up to 40 m.p.h. were expected on Monday, Mr. Todd said. “This isn’t the time to panic,” he told residents.