8 Maui cane fires in 2 months believed to be arson

Published  5:42 PM HST Jun 19, 2013
Maui sugar cane fire
MAUI, Hawaii -

There have been eight cane field fires over just the last two months. Officials say they are acts of arson and they need help finding out whoever is starting the fires. Fire comes with the territory when you harvest sugar cane on Maui, it's part of the process, but at least eight recent sugar cane fires weren't supposed to happen. More than 42 valuable acres have burned.

"Some of them have happened within an hour. Multiple incidents within an hour, so it leads us to believe that there is something not right about that," said Chief Jeff Murray with Maui County Fire Department.

The fires started in May and kept happening. Two fires in one day, then three in another, then two more. One fire was set right across the street from Mama's Fish House in Kuau. The place was packed for Father's Day, and everyone had to evacuate.

"We are used to the cane burns around here, but it seemed to get very smoky and very ashy, very fast. All of a sudden the restaurant was filling with smoke," said Jackie Greene, manager of Mama's Fish House.

Firefighters took to the air to fight that fire back, using water from the ocean. Officials say the arson needs to stop because it is putting everyone's safety at risk.

"We want to plead to the community that we don't want these things to happen because there can be an impact. There might be a situation where we are unable to protect a community," said Murray.

And it's costly, the fires have damaged more than $180,000 of sugar crop. The Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company released a statement saying "The series of unscheduled cane fires that has occurred over the last two months is a serious problem." So far no injuries have been reported. If you have any information, you are asked to call 808-244-6425

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