Olinda Fire: High Winds, Limited Access

June 18, 2012, 7:16 AM HST · Updated June 18, 4:26 PM
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File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

(Update: 4:18 p.m. 6/18/12)

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has closed the Makawao State Forest Reserve due to an ongoing forest fire a above the Kahakapao reservoir in the Olinda/Piiholo area.

The fire was 40% contained according to state officials.

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Authorities with the state DLNR office said the fire burned approximately 4 acres of eucalyptus and non-native shrubs.

Maui Fire Department crews first responded to the fire with help of two helicopters doing water drops on Monday morning.

DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife firefighters took on the ground fighting tasks with 12 field personnel.

A high wind advisory has been issued by National Weather Service for the fire area. At last report, winds were blowing at 15 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph. Weather conditions were cloudy with high humidity.

“Due to the high winds and risk of danger from falling trees and branches, the Kula State Forest Reserve, including Polipoli Spring State Park, has been temporarily closed for public safety,” said DLNR Chair William Aila Jr.

“We ask the public to be cautious and avoid these areas while risks exist.”

State Forestry personnel were called out Sunday evening to remove fallen trees from the forest road to Polipoli Spring State Park so stranded persons could leave.

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers were also on scene this morning to evacuate 10 individuals who were camping at the state park or in other areas. They were able to exit through the Skyline Road via Haleakala National Park.

The gate to the Park/Forest Reserve on Waipouli Road has since been closed wit a closure sign posted at Waipoli Road gate and at Skyline Road gate. It will remain closed until the high wind event subsides and the road is clear.

(Update: 1:24 p.m. 6/18/12)

An Olinda/Piiholo brush fire that burned about 10 acres this morning is pretty much contained, according to fire officials.

The fire fighting efforts have since been turned over to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

The fire was reported this morning above the Kahakapao Reservoirs before it spread mauka into the forest reserve.

(Update: 8:24 a.m. 6/18/2012)

A brush fire in Olinda has now burned an estimated 10 acres above the Kahakapao Reservoirs and has spread into the forest reserve, authorities said.

Crews responding to the scene include two Fire Department helicopters, Engine 13, and Engine 5.

Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said heavy timber is involved with wind gusts up to 40 mph reported in the area.

(Posted 7:04 a.m. 6/18/12)

Maui firefighters are battling a brush fire in Olinda that had burned an estimated two acres by 7 a.m.

Helicopter support was dispatched as ground crews assess access areas to battle the blaze from the ground, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

Crews are on scene with additional response being dispatched.

The burn area is above the reservoir and headed into the forest reserve area, were there is a heavy fuel load, authorities said.

Authorities say access is limited because of terrain and high winds are reported in the area.

The National Weather Service has continued a High Wind Warning for the Summit of Haleakala, including the Haleakala National Park above the 6,000 foot elevation.

The warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. with winds of at least 40 mph, and gusts of 60 mph expected.  Forecasters say east winds will be 30 to 50 mph with gusts up to 80 mph.

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