Pohakuloa fire not a threat to community, PTA officials say

News Report
Will Caron

A range fire that began March 24 within the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Hawaii island during a combined armed live-fire exercise is contained but still smoldering near Range 3 in the PTA impact area, where officials say it is running out of fuel.

The area where the fire is located is surrounded by lava and a road network, serving as a barrier to stop the fire from spreading. The closest vegetation is more than a mile away.

Several community members have raised concerns regarding the fire and depleted uranium (DU) left over from the military’s live fire training exercises at PTA. According to PTA officials, DU only aerosolizes at temperatures much higher than those produced by brush or range fires. Additionally, the fire is located approximately two miles from the nearest DU location, and this area is separated from the fire area by a lava field devoid of combustible fuels and vegetation. It is extremely unlikely that the fire will reach the DU area.

According to officials, past air samples taken during prescribed range burns have not detected DU.

“We appreciate the community’s interest, and we want to assure the community—especially those of us who live and work in the immediate area—that we take everyone’s safety seriously,” said Lt. Col. Jake Peterson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa. “If people do have questions about DU, we encourage them to check out our website and get the facts.”

The Army’s local DU webpage is available at www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/du/. The site lists frequently asked questions, health and investigative reports, and other DU resources.

The range fire began March 24 at approximately 11:30 a.m. To date, the fire has burned approximately 200 acres and has not expanded.