UPDATE: 30 Acre Ukumehame Fire Started Near Homeless Encampment
UPDATE: 7 a.m. 6/23/16
The West Maui brush fire that broke out at 12:18 p.m., on Wednesday June 22, 2016, has blackened around 30 acres of dry grass and brush in an Ukumehame subdivision, fire officials said.
At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the fire was estimated to be 60% contained. Fire officials say a heavily wooded area of large trees near the highway was making it difficult to get complete containment. Crews were seeing repeated flare-ups in this area. A Lahaina crew maintained fire watch overnight.
An area resident reported hearing a loud explosion just before flames were seen erupting from an open field just north of Pohaku Aeko Street and mauka of Honoapiʻilani Highway. Winds quickly spread the fire makai towards Honoapiʻilani Highway, which forced a brief shutdown of all vehicle traffic for about 30 minutes.
While two helicopters made water drops by air, heavy equipment from the County’s Public Works Department and West Maui Land Co. cut firebreaks around the perimeter in attempts to contain the fire, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto. West Maui Land Co. also assisted with two water tankers at the scene.
Fire investigators were not able to determine the exact cause of the fire, but believe that it started near a group of homeless encampments discovered in the brush. One encampment was overrun by the flames and was destroyed, but two other makeshift shelters were saved by fire crews. No homes in the subdivision were threatened and no injuries were reported.
Twenty-six firefighters and a battalion chief from Lahaina, Wailea responded to the brush fire.
UPDATE: 2:06 p.m. 6/22/16
A brush fire in the Ukumehame area of West Maui has burned an estimated 15 acres.
The fire was first reported at 12:18 p.m. on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, and the first crew from Lahaina was on scene at 12:34 p.m.
The brush fire is located near milepost 12 of Honoapiʻilani Highway, on the mauka side of the road.
About 20 firefighters from three engines, a hazards materials crew, three fire department water tankers, and a West Maui battalion chief are battling the brush fire. Two helicopters are also making water drops on the fire.
Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto says crews are protecting structures in a nearby residential subdivision but no homes have been directly impacted at this time.
The Honoapiʻilani Highway was closed briefly because of firefighting operations and smoke affecting visibility on the highway. The highway was reopened at around 1:30 p.m.
FSC Taomoto said it is still too early to say what may have caused the fire.
UKUMEHAME BRUSH FIRE: 12:25 p.m.
Maui firefighters are battling a brush fire near Mile 12 of the Honoapi’ilani Highway in the Ukumehame area of West Maui. The fire was burning an area of brush on the mauka side of the road.
At 1:17 p.m., Maui police implemented a partial road closure at Mile 13. Police are alternating traffic using one lane.
Motorists can expect significant delays.
Police advise the public no to attempt to drive around Kahakuloa as it will be restricted to residential traffic only.
A helicopter is on scene doing water drops to assist ground crews in fighting the fire.
*Please check back for further details, which will be posted as they become available.