Earlier this month, I posted here about the largest brush fire in Big Island history, which burned more than 40,000 acres of land. A couple of days ago. I drove Old Saddle Road and got a look at the aftermath.
The fire burned mostly through dry pasture and scrub land leaving a black and brown landscape. Clumps of charred trees broke up otherwise uniform stretches of blackened grassland. Lines of fencing could be seen, but where before posts held up the wire, in many places the wire now supported the dangling remains of posts. Thoroughfares of dusty brown dirt cut through the landscape where fire breaks had been bulldozed. Strips of green alongside the highway were the only remnants of the area’s usual color.
The fire has been out for a couple of weeks now, but when the wind blows, brown clouds of dust are driven before it. It will be a few months before anything resembling normalcy returns, though new green shoots could be seen here and there, a testimony to the resilience of nature.
As I walked around taking photos I heard some noises. I thought it was trees creaking, but when I got back to the car, I heard the sounds again and spotted these two sheep, now well camouflaged in the new landscape. They looked well enough, though there was nothing to eat or drink for some distance. But they’re free to roam through the gaps in the fencing and no doubt will find something. All the cattle and horses that normally occupy the fields were missing. Many were rounded up ahead of the flames, though some perished.
It was a sobering scene, the more so because, while this was the islands largest brush fire, it was tiny in comparison to the blazes that have become a regular feature of summer on the mainland.