- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - The Hawaii Fire Department is nearing completion of its investigation into several suspicious brush fires as crews still work to extinguish at least one of the blazes in North Kona and South Kohala.

Todd Kazuo with the department’s Kona Fire Prevention Bureau said fire investigators are almost ready to turn their findings over to police. They have been looking into the blazes that broke out Thursday and covered more than 1,100 acres, West Hawaii Today reported (http://bit.ly/1U9I2I5).

Kazuo said he could not provide details on what may have caused the fires, citing the ongoing investigation. But he did say arson was looked at as a possibility.

A natural brush fire typically starts from one source, such as from a lightning strike or a vehicle’s hot muffler igniting the brush, Kazuo said.

“One of the things key to arson is you have multiple fires on the same day or within the same time period,” Todd explained. . “‘Accidental’ doesn’t happen three times; lighting doesn’t strike the same house three times - that is impossible.”

The fires near Highway 190 and Daniel K. Inouye Highway had five separate points of origin that combined into three separate fires at the height of the blaze Thursday afternoon, fire officials previously reported.

Firefighters were still battling hot spots Tuesday within a 320-acre burn area in federal land off the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. The 771-acre fire on state land near Puuanahulu is contained but smoldering continues, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Resources. A 5-acre blaze in the area has also been contained.

Fire crews were also able to contain another brush fire that broke out after midnight Wednesday near the Kona hunter check station in the Puuanahulu Game Management Unit, KHON-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1mJlQXI).

Fire officials and police have called on the public to report suspicious activity or come forward with any information.

“Sometimes the key to breaking the case or closing an arson case is that one piece of evidential information given to us by random passerbyers. People who are intentionally starting fires are often seen by passerbyers,” said Kazuo.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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