The Hawaii Police Department said Highway 11 north of Pahala was closed Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. until further notice due to brush fires in the area.
The highway was closed in both directions at the 49-mile marker.
The Hawaii County Fire Department estimates two brush fires have scorched about 3,400 acres.
On Tuesday morning, the blaze was moving away from homes and the Kau Hospital, where heavy smoke forced 15 patients and the staff to be evacuated. They were taken to the Naalehu Community Center to wait out the brush fire. At last check, they were still at the community center on Tuesday.
At Kau High School, coach Guy Enriques was running a volleyball practice for his club, Southside Volleyball Club, to prepare for an upcoming tournament on the mainland. He said just after noon Monday, the smoke became so thick at the gym that some of the boys became sick and had to evacuate.
"We got some smoke inhalation while we were practicing in the gym. We have a couple of kids that have pretty heavy asthma," said Enriques. "I sent one of my assistant volleyball coaches to check. I told them it was a big barbeque so that they would stay focused because we don't have a lot of time before our big tournament in Dallas, Texas. So didn't want to waste any time."