Wailea Fire Burns 200 Acres, Shelter Closes
UPDATE: 9:19 a.m. Jan. 7, 2019
(Previous Updates: 9:19 a.m., 9:07 a.m., 7:07 a.m., 6:06 a.m., 4:20 a.m. 1.7.19; 11:57 p.m., 9:30 p.m. 1.6.19)
The Wailea fire has burned 200 acres and is now 60% contained, according to fire officials. The information was included in a 9:19 a.m. update issued by the County of Maui.
At this time there is a reduced threat to homes in the area, according to the Maui Emergency Management Agency. Authorities say shelters have closed and will re-open if the need arises. The public is asked to please remain vigilant as fires can reignite at any time.
Maui fire crews conducted air reconnaissance at first light today to determine the extent of the ongoing Wailea brush fire, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro. County officials say no injuries or property damage have been reported as of 9 a.m. today.
Wind that had fanned the fast-moving flames died around 2 a.m., officials said. Residents of the Wailea Fairway Villas were allowed to return to their homes on Kalai Waʻa at around 3 a.m., but county officials say guests and employees of The Hotel Wailea remained evacuated despite earlier reports otherwise. The property was the subject of evacuations last night when the brush fire jumped the Piʻilani Highway and threatened the hotel. An evacuation shelter staffed by Red Cross volunteers was opened at the Kīhei Community Center on Sunday night with more than 30 people (mostly visitors) seeking shelter there. One family of five remained at the shelter as of 7:30 a.m., and the shelter has since been closed.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said: “I want to thank all the volunteers who responded to this emergency. Mahalo to Red Cross volunteers, Wailea hotel and security personnel, Department of Public Works employees and Goodfellow Bros. for the use of water tankers and bulldozers.”
Overnight, Maui firefighters surrounded the brush fire, allowing brush within the perimeter to burn out. Bulldozers were used to cut firebreaks in critical areas. That work will be ongoing today as firefighters work to fully contain and extinguish the blaze.
Firefighters responding to the blaze came from stations in Wailea, Kīhei, Wailuku, Kahului, Makawao and Lahaina, officials said. Some firefighters were activated as emergency call-backs.
Fire officials said conditions were “very challenging,” with swirling winds estimated to have been blowing from 15 to 20 mph.
This morning the Maui Fire Department’s Air One helicopter was making water drops in the area. Around 7 a.m., a fire scene commander inspected the brush fire area by air. The cause of the fire remained undetermined.
The fire was first reported at 6:42 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 near 4050 Kalai Waʻa Street in Wailea. This morning, crews were monitoring hot spots and checking the burn area with a crew change scheduled to take place at around 7:30 a.m.
Wailea residents and visitors were advised to prepare for possible evacuation overnight the fast-moving fire continued to burn out of control late Sunday night. An advisory was sent out via cell phone towers to people in the vicinity, according to the Maui Emergency Management Agency. Other residents and visitors were being advised to avoid the area, said agency Administrator Herman Andaya.
Maui fire officials had not immediately determined the extent of the blaze that was actively burning and not under control as of 11:40 p.m. Earlier in the evening, Val Martin, Assistant Chief, Support Services for the Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety said the fire was “fast-moving” and fire officials did not have an estimate of the burn area size.
Mayor Michael Victorino and First Lady Joycelyn Victorino responded to the community center as of 9:45 p.m. And, four Red Cross volunteers were there as well, Maui County officials said.
“We rushed to the community center to see how we could help,” Mayor Victorino said. “Our prayers are with all those affected by this fire.” Mayor Victorino said he was monitoring firefighting efforts. He asked residents and visitors to stay tuned to official announcements through radio reports, social and print media.
Fire officials say there were seven fire trucks, two water tankers and one ladder company fighting the fire on Sunday. The Department’s Air 1 helicopter was scheduled to join the effort at first light on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.
The public is advised to stay tuned for more information and follow police and fire fighters instructions. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
*Video Credit: “Christopher Harder” of Chris Cole Films
*Video by Malika Dudley
WAILEA FIRE: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 6, 2019
Crews are responding to a brush fire in Wailea. Initial reports indicate the fire is located near Kalai Waa Street in South Maui. We also have confirmed reports of a power outage in Wailea. Maui Electric crews are responding. As of 9 p.m., we have new reports of evacuations happening at Hotel Wailea. Check back for further updates which will be posted as they become available.