Olowalu Brush Fire 30% Contained
As of 2 p.m., today, Saturday July 9, 2016, approximately 1,300 acres of Olowalu brush has burned; the fire is about 30% contained.
The brush fire was reported at 7:15 a.m. on Friday July 8, 2016, and started in an open field north of Ehehene Street in the Olowalu-Ukumehame area.
The cause of the fire has not been determined and is still being investigated.
No structures have been damaged, however a homeowner’s backhoe was destroyed as the fire burned past the property yesterday afternoon. Damage was estimated at $20,000.
Families in three homes were evacuated Friday during the height of the blaze, but they were allowed to return last night.
Honoapi‘ilani Highway is open in both directions. No road closures are anticipated based on the current fire conditions, however intermittent road closures may occur at anytime if conditions change.
Crews are using bulldozers to cut firebreaks and to create control lines to prevent future flame spread.
Ground crews are hitting hot spots along the perimeter to strengthen those control lines, while the fire department helicopter and 2 other contracted helicopters are making water drops where it is needed.
Winds in the area are 20- to 30 mph, gusting to 40 mph at times, with hot temperatures and dry humid conditions.
There have been some minor flare-ups, but crews so far, have been able to contain them before they break out beyond control lines.
Yesterday, crews conducted backfiring operations—a tactic where firefighters strategically burn out areas of unburned fuel ahead of the fire’s path in order to protect structures or to change the fire’s direction and force.
About 55 personnel are working to contain the fire on today. They include around 30 MFD firefighters, 13 State Division of Forestry & Wildlife firefighters, and about 12 personnel from Goodfellow Brothers Construction, West Maui Land Co. and Maui County Public Works.