UPDATE: Maui Police open arson investigation in connection to two brush fires on Maui
Maui County reports that the South Maui fire that began Thursday in Central Maui is now 70% contained.
UPDATE 9:34 P.M.
Maui County reports that the South Maui fire that began Thursday in Central Maui is now 70% contained.
In addition, the Puunene fire is 80% contained, according to Maui County.
UPDATE 8:23 P.M.
Maui Police have opened an arson investigation in connection to the two brush fires on Maui.
Police are looking for a possibly maroon-colored Ford dually-type truck, early to mid-2000’s model with truck racks.
Police are interested in identifying this vehicle as well as the owner as it was seen leaving the area of the Hookele Street fire Friday.
UPDATE 6:36 P.M.
The Maui Fire Department has made significant progress containing the South Maui fire, which was 60% contained as of sunset Friday.
The fire that began around Waiko Road has not grown from Friday morning and has burned a little more than 9,000 acres, according to preliminary GIS mapping.
Firefighters were concentrating on the perimeter of the fire, cutting firebreaks with bulldozers and dousing hot spots with water.
The Air Two and Three helicopters continued water drops until sundown.
The aircraft will be back fighting the fire at first light Saturday, along with on-duty and call-back firefighters.
The department’s Air One helicopter was diverted to a second, separate fire that broke out around 1:30 p.m. Friday in the vicinity of Lowe’s and the new Safeway off of Hookele Street.
The new fire was estimated to have covered an estimated 200 acres, and it was 35% contained as of 5:45 p.m., fire officials said.
“We’re working on securing the perimeter,” said Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro.
Two abandoned structures in the brush were destroyed, he said.
There were no other reports of structural damage or injuries.
Firefighters also were working on protecting Maui Electric Co. utility poles, he said.
Multiple MPD engine companies and tankers were deployed to the second fire, along with three state crash rescue units from Kahului Airport. Private contractors and County of Maui departments assisted with heavy equipment and tankers.
UPDATE 5:18 P.M.
The Maui Fire Department reported making progress Friday afternoon in its battle against a massive wildfire that has consumed thousands of acres of fallow sugar cane lands and dry brush from Waiko Road to mauka of north Kihei.
However around 1:30 p.m Friday., a separate, fast-moving brush fire started in the vicinity of Lowes and the new Safeway store. Police closed Pulehu Road between Hookele Street and Hansen Road.
For a while, Hookele Street and Maui Veterans Highway were closed in the vicinity of the fire, but they reopened. Hansen Road was closed. Road closures and reopenings may occur quickly.
Evacuations were ordered at Puunene School, the Puunene Post Office, Feed My Sheep and the Maui Economic Opportunity baseyard.
Several businesses and stores were also evacuated, including Target and Lowes. Paratransit and human service transportation services were interrupted.
The new fire required two engine companies, two tankers, helicopter and a private bulldozer.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino flew aboard a helicopter to survey the wildfire for a second consecutive day on Thursday. During a 3 p.m. news conference, he estimated the fire had blackened 12,000 acres.
Maui County residents are being asked to heed wildfire safety practices such as clearing leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks; getting rid of dead vegetation and other combustible material from within 10 feet of homes; and removing flammable materials such as firewood stacks and propane tanks from within 30 feet of a home’s foundation.
Mayor Victorino thanked various churches, businesses and organizations for donating food, water and supplies to those affected by the fire.
UPDATE 3:40 P.M.
Puunene School and Puunene Post Office have been evacuated, according to Maui County.
Feed My Sheep and Maui Economic Opportunity are also evacuating their assets from the area.
The County says that Paratransit and Human Service Transportation services may be interrupted.
UPDATE 3:13 P.M.
Shan Tsutsui, Senior Vice President of Mahi Pono, released the following statement:
“Since Thursday, we have remained in direct contact with the Mayor’s office and the managing director to offer Mahi Pono’s full support to the county as they work to contain the brush fire in Central Maui. Currently, we have 10 employees solely dedicated to managing the fire which has included providing assistance putting up firebreaks. We have also offered the county access through our farm roads and are keeping our reservoirs full and accessible. Today, based on the recommendations by the Maui Fire Department (MFD), we have a D8 bulldozer cutting a firebreak near the MECO power plant; two front end loaders cutting additional firebreaks near the Haleakala Ranch boarder; and three tractors establishing firebreaks around our central Maui base yard, right below Pukalani and also along Keahua Road. We would like to thank the Mayor, the county, MFD and all of the first responders who are working tirelessly to extinguish the brush fire. We appreciate their leadership, hard work and dedication in protecting the safety of our community. The fire has impacted both residents and visitors and our thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected. “At this time, we do not know the extent of the damage to our property and we will not be able to do any type of assessment until the fire is contained.”
Department of Water Supply crews are working to repair three to four waterline breaks on North Kihei Road fronting Maalaea Power Plant.
Southbound traffic is closed in the vicinity of the work on North Kihei Road.
Water will be turned off for approximately eight hours starting around 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Customers in Maalaea and North Kihei Road may experience low water pressure and they are asked to conserve water while the breaks are being repaired.
There is no immediate estimate for when repairs will be completed.
UPDATE 2:09 P.M.
Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on Friday, declaring the County of Maui a disaster area.
The proclamation enables the state to provide quick and efficient relief from damages, losses, suffering caused by the disaster, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people.
“I am declaring our Valley Isle a disaster area for the purpose of implementing the emergency management functions as allowed by law. The emergency proclamation also authorizes the expenditure of state monies as appropriated to support speedy and efficient relief efforts,” Governor Ige said.
Maui Mayor Mike Victorino says the fire is about 20% contained and has so far damaged at least 9,000 acres of former sugar cane lands and brush.
See the emergency proclamation here.
UPDATE: 10:30 a.m.
Officials say the fire is 20 percent contained. The Maui Fire Department has deployed 23 firefighters on the ground with engines and tankers . More than 9,000 acres of fallow former sugar cane lands and brush have been burned.
Mayor Michael Victorino reminded residents and visitors that conditions may worsen at any time and to stay vigilant and prepared.
All roads were open Friday morning, and all emergency shelters had closed. War Memorial Gymnasium and Kamali`I Elementary School were on standby to reopen, if needed.
Winds were forecast to increase between 10 and 11 a.m. Friday, with temperatures rising above 90 degrees. The fire expected to east-southeast direction and uphill. Firefighters will focus their efforts on stopping the fire's spread.
The Fire Department's Air One, Two and Three were airborne Friday morning, making water drops, and the National Guard is assisting firefighting personnel with a Chinook helicopter to assist in work to douse the flames.
UPDATE: 7/12 10:00 a.m.
Governor David Ige is expected to declare a state of emergency for Maui County later Friday morning.
UPDATE 10:12 P.M.
UPDATE 9:36 P.M.
According to Maui Police, police are escorting cars intermittently through North Kihei Road as conditions allow. Residents on Ohukai and to Uwapo Road are clear to return to their homes.
Currently Maui Electric reports that its generating facilities have not been affected by the wild fire. We continue to monitor the situation with Maui Fire Department on site at our Maalaea Generating Station.
Maui Electric says that there are no scheduled or planned outages to customers at this time.
According to Maui Electric staff, they are prepared and equipped to operate at an alternative location to maintain electrical service if personnel have to evacuate the Maalaea Generating Station in the interest of safety.
UPDATE 9:29 P.M.
Maui Humane Society tweeted that they are safe and sound with all the animals.
"We have cots coming from mayors office so we are covered. Thanks everyone! Still no word on when we can get back into the shelter so we are hunkered down. We will keep everyone posted. Mahalo to everyone who has helped!?"
UPDATE 8:50 P.M.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation tweeted this around 7 p.m. Thursday:
Mayor Victorino says another factor that's fueling the fire is a lack of rain.
"It's the driest I've seen Central Maui in many many years. I hoped Hurricane Barbara would leave us a little rain, just enough. So now this is my nightmare that I knew would come sooner or later this summer because it's been so dry," Mayor Victorino said.
North Kihei roadways remain completely closed, while Kuilani is open only coming in from Lahaina, not going out of Lahaina.
UPDATE 7:23 P.M.
Maui Veterans Highway has reopened for traffic leaving Kihei only at this time.
Kuihelani Highway and Waiko Road have also reopened to traffic, while North Kihei Road remains closed.
The following shelters are open:
The Kihei Community Center, manned by the Department of Parks and Recreation; with 156 people and six dogs there.
UPDATE 6:26 P.M.
Maui Electric issued an update stating that around 1:50 p.m. about 4,000 customers in parts of South Maui experienced an outage due to the Central Maui brush fire.
A majority of customers had their power restored around 3 p.m. as Maui Electric rerouted power to the area.
Maui Electric reports that there are three remaining customers who are offline until the fire can be contained and crews can assess the situation.
UPDATE 5:35 P.M.
Hawaii Red Cross volunteers have opened two shelters in response to the spreading brush fire in Central Maui.
The shelters are located at Kamalii Elementary School (180 Alanui Ke'ali'i, Kihei, HI 96753) and the second is at the War Memorial Complex (700 Halia Nakoa St, Wailuku, HI 96793).
UPDATE 7/11 3:19 P.M.
Kihei residents north of Ohukai Road have been ordered to evacuate. Kamalii Elementary School is open as a shelter.
Maui Veterans Highway was shut down at 2:20 p.m. Thursday from the Central Maui Baseyard to its intersection with Piilani Highway and North Kihei Road while firefighters continue to battle brush fire.
At this time Kuihelani Highway remains closed. North Kihei Road is closed to traffic traveling toward Kihei. Motorists may drive out but not in to Kihei, according to Maui Police.
The County of Maui activated its Emergency Operations Center to respond to a wildfire reported at 10:42 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Waiko Road and Kuihelani Highway.
A brush fire on Maui on the Maalaea side of Waiko road has jumped Kuihelani Highway, forcing that roadway to close from Honoapiilani to Maui Lani Parkway.
According to the Maui Fire Department (MFD), the fire was reported Thursday at 10:42 a.m. south of the intersection of Kuihelani Highway and Waiko Road.
Winds were estimated to be blowing at 15 to 20 miles per hour.
The Maui Humane Society is evacuating, and says, "We need help to transport to Maui high. Everyone should bring carriers."
A shelter will be open at Kamali`i Elementary School in Kihei at 2:30 p.m. No residential evacuations have been ordered.
No structures are immediately threatened.
Parts of South Maui are experiencing a power outages due to the brush fire. Maui Electric is on scene, however, the fire is not affecting any of their facilities.
Maui Electric says, "everyone in the family should know where and how to shut off the master switch," in case of an emergency.
Air drops of water are being administered by MFD's Air One and Two helicopters. There are three engines and two battalion chiefs on scene, along with bulldozers helping from West Maui Land Co., Goodfellow Bros. and the County of Maui Department of Public Works.
Drivers heading from West Maui traveling to Central Maui and Kahului Airport need to detour to North Kihei Road and Maui Veterans Highway until Kuihelani Highway reopens.