MOLOKAI FIRE BURNS 7,800 ACRES; 70 FIREFIGHTERS ON SCENE
UPDATED @ 4:00 P.M. MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2009
More than 70 state and county firefighters are on the scene of a three day old fire on Molokai that has now burned an estimated 7,800 acres.Â Crews are being assisted by 5 helicopters, 7 bulldozers, and 5 water tankers.
Bulldozer activity remains heavy as equipment operators place fire break lines to help prevent the fire from advancing. Firefighters are dealing with flare-ups throughout the burn areas.
“Our crews are doing an outstanding job and we truly appreciate the great support from the people and businesses of Molokai,” said Fire Chief Jeff Murray. “So many have come forward to offer whatever help they can provide including dropping off food for our firefighters and support personnel. We want them to know that we’re grateful for their generosity and can’t thank them enough,” said Murray.
The Department of Education announced this morning the closure of four schools on Molokai. Kaunakakai Elementary, Molokai Middle School, Molokai High and Kualapuu School were closed because of access conditions. According to DOE Maui Complex Superintendent Lindsay Ball, the fire has no direct threat to the school campuses, but the conditions and hazards caused by the fire in nearby areas created a situation where faculty and parents were not able to access roadways leading to the school campus. To check for Tuesday’s school closure information parents can call DOE’s Maui District office at 984-8001 or the Molokai Complex office at 553-1723.
The County’s Cooke Memorial Swimming Pool will remain closed while it is being used as a water source for helicopters conducting aerial water drops. Helicopter assistance will cease at nightfall as a safety precaution and is expected to resume tomorrow at daylight.
At 1:00 p.m. today the Red Cross closed an emergency shelter it opened yesterday at the Mitchell Pauole Community Center. Aside from one firefighter who was treated for smoke inhalation on Saturday, no injuries are reported.
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
(Posted by Wendy Osher, Information provided by the County of Maui.Â Photos courtesy Jeff Zuckernick)