Another fire at a warehouse that holds batteries for the 30-megawatt wind farm in Kahuku has some residents questioning whether they should be concerned for their safety.
Kent Fonoimoana of the Kahuku Community Association believes the large plume of smoke originating from the fire could threaten the areas ecosystem.
"My concerns are for the downwind areas," Fonoimoana told KITV4. "All of this fallout has been added to our water shed."
The fire inside the 7,000-square-foot warehouse began at 4:45 Wednesday morning, and as of late Thursday afternoon, continued to smolder.
Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said First Wind, which owns and operates the wind farm, agreed to let the building burn after firefighters expressed concern about the stability of the warehouse, as well as toxic chemicals coming from the lead batteries.
"It probably included the casing of some of the batteries, which now releases the content, and these are lead cell batteries, so it's an acid base," said Seelig.
Fortunately, the direction of the wind at the height of the fire blew most of the smoke away from Kahuku. Robert Nozawa of Nozawa Farm said he and other members of his family would have left the area if the wind changed directions.
"I would definitely evacuate just out of personal concern," said Nozawa, who sells sweet corn on the shoulder of Kamehameha Highway.
Seelig said residents who live near the wind farm have the right to ask questions, but it's highly speculative whether evacuations would have been ordered if smoke from the fire blew toward Kahuku.
"That's a science based question that really is difficult to answer without having a lot more time to process it, in terms of using tools to model the plume," said Seelig.