Fireworks Found at Kaupō Fire, Arson Suspected

July 15, 2013, 3:43 PM HST · Updated July 15, 8:16 PM
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Kaupō fire. Photo courtesy Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety.

Kaupō fire. Photo courtesy Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety.

By Wendy Osher

Maui fire investigators have determined that a 65-acre brush fire in Kaupō over the weekend, was likely to have been intentionally set, said Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga this afternoon.

According to FS Chief Mainaga, remains of a type of fireworks known as “ground bloom flowers” were recovered from the scene yesterday.

In response to the discovery of the fireworks material, Maui Fire Chief Jeff Murray noted that although no permit is needed to buy or set off legal fireworks, residents can only do so during certain hours on designated holidays including Independence Day or New Year’s Eve.  The County of Maui prohibits the use of fireworks outside those specified dates, fire officials said.

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“The time of day the fireworks were lit in the Kaupō incident indicate that this fire may have not been accidental,” according to information attributed to the fire chief in information released by the department today.

Maui Fire Chief Jeffery Murray. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui Fire Chief Jeffery Murray. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“People usually watch fireworks at night, which is odd that these fireworks were set off in the middle of the afternoon,” said Chief Murray in a department press release. “We have had a number of brushfires this summer, and this one tied up our fire fighters all weekend long. This sort of reckless behavior needs to stop, otherwise someone may get hurt.”

The fire was first reported at 3:07 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2013 on the ʻUlupalakua side of Manawainui Gulch, near mile marker 27.5 of the Piʻilani Highway.

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The Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety utilized both resources and personnel as they worked to battle the blaze over the weekend, eventually gaining 100% containment by Sunday evening and calling the fire extinguished at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, July 15, 2013.

The Kaupō fire comes on the heels of several suspicious cane fires reported between May 19 and June 18 across the island.

Another fire in back of Kmart on Saturday burned about half an acre of dry grass and shrubbery.  Investigators have since released information saying that that fire was suspected to have originated from a homeless encampment.

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