Maui Wildfires 80-90% Contained: Saturday Updates
UPDATE 5:30 p.m. 7.13.19: Maui firefighters continue mop-up, wildfire containment
A large wildfire on Maui that burned 9,000 acres since Thursday is now 80 percent contained as of Saturday afternoon, according to a 5:30 p.m. update issued by the County of Maui. Firefighters continue to put out hot spots, especially in perimeter areas.
A separate 200-acre fire that started at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday in the vicinity of the new Safeway and Lowe’s off of Hoʻokele Street, remained at 90% containment before sundown on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, firefighters worked to “burn out” unburned fuel in the Puʻunēnē area to keep it spreading outside the fire perimeter.
The department’s Air One and Two helicopters worked throughout Saturday making water drops by air.
“I would like to remind our residents and visitors to stay alert and vigilant for the next few days,” said Maui Mayor Michael Victorino. “I also would like to thank all the firefighters, police, first responders, emergency management personnel, private contractors, state partners and volunteers who worked tirelessly to protect lives and property.”
The 9,000-acre fire was first reported at 10:42 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Kūihelani Highway and Waikō Road. It spread rapidly south and east, jumping both the Kūihelani and Maui Veterans highways as it consumed fallow sugar lands and dry brush to north Kīhei. The fire triggered road closures and evacuations in Māʻalaea and north Kīhei.
“Now, all roads are open, and there are no evacuations as firefighters continue mop-up work, including putting out hot spots and flare-ups,” county officials said.
Earlier today, part time resident Oprah Winfrey posted a photo of herself at the Maui Humane Society where she reportedly stopped by to offer her thanks. In her Instagram post, she said, “Everyone’s safe including all the animals. Thank you for your service. ??????#mauipolicedepartment #mauifiredepartment #mauihumanesociety.”
UPDATE: 5 p.m. 7.13.19: Maui fire crews continue to battle hotspots from two wildfires on Maui. Maui Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro tells Maui Now that that a flare up reported shortly before 4:30 p.m. in the area behind the Maui Humane Society is considered a “hotspot” and is not a controlled burn. Also at around 4:55 p.m., smoke was observed in the area near the Keālia Pond in North Kīhei. Crews are on scene and there is no threat at this time.
UPDATE: 10 a.m. 7.13.19: Residents and visitors may see smoke in the Puʻunēnē area due to a Maui Fire Department firing team “burning out” areas around the Puʻunēnē fire to remove unburned fuels that would jeopardize the perimeter. Crews will be working for the next 1-2 hours.
UPDATE: 9:47 a.m. 7.13.19: Maui firefighters work to fully contain brush fires; All roads open; no evacuations; shelters closed
The Maui Fire Department continued working to contain two large brush fires, beginning air drops of water with the Air One and Two helicopters after sunrise today.
As of 7 a.m. today, containment was at 70 percent for the 9,000-acre wildfire that began Thursday morning near the intersection of Waikō Road and Kūihelani Highway and spread south and east to north Kīhei.
A separate fire reported at 1:30 p.m. Friday near Lowe’s and the new Safeway was 90 percent contained with 200 acres burned.
Firefighters will continue work on the fire perimeters, putting out hot spots and flare-ups. A re-assessment of the fires’ containment will be done later today, likely this afternoon. Air drops of water will continue.
All roads are open, and there are no current evacuations, police reported.
About 25 visitors who were stranded at Kahului Airport on Friday night sought shelter at Maui High School. They were transported back to the airport at 5 a.m. by buses provided by the County of Maui Department of Transportation. Other visitors who were stuck at the airport because of American Airlines flight cancellations made other arrangements. Seven people remained at the airport overnight.
The Maui High shelter is now closed. There are no open shelters currently, although they may be reopened if the need arises.
The Department of Parks and Recreation reported that the Kīhei Aquatics Center and the Pukalani pools reopened at 9 a.m. today. The Kīhei pool has been cleared of ash and debris, and air quality has improved significantly at the Pukalani pool.
Maui Economic Opportunity buses were operating Saturday morning from its Wailuku facility, but the buses were expected to return to the Puunene baseyard later today after being evacuated Friday afternoon.
Maui County residents are being asked to heed wildfire safety practices such as clearing leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks; getting rid of dead vegetation and other combustible material from within 10 feet of homes; and removing flammable materials such as firewood stacks and propane tanks from within 30 feet of a home’s foundation.
UPDATE: 5:14 a.m. 7.13.19
We are awaiting an official update from county authorities. At last report the large South Maui wildfire was 70% contained and the Puʻunēnē fire was 80% contained. Overnight there were some 400 displaced travelers who were stranded by flight cancellations by American Airlines. Some were accommodated at a shelter set up at Maui High School. There is also an arson investigation underway as police search for a vehicle seen leaving the site of Friday’s Puʻunēnē fire.
UPDATE: 11 p.m. 7.12.19
The Department of Water Supply has completed repairs on water main breaks on North Kīhei Road. Customers in the Māʻalaea and north Kīhei area are asked to conserve water for at least two hours to allow water tanks to fill.
UPDATE 10:30 p.m. 7.12.19: Maui High School opened for stranded American Airlines passengers
State Department of Education staff, the American Red Cross and the County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation mobilized on short notice Friday night to provide shelter at Maui High School for up to 400 distressed passengers stranded by American Airlines flight cancelations.
Maui Visitors Bureau provided inflatable mattresses and blankets to the shelter. County Department of Transportation with Roberts Hawaiʻi provided transportation between the high school and Kahului Airport. Red Cross provided services and coordinated the opening.
American Airlines canceled their flights and volunteers had just one hour to coordinate the opening of the shelter and transporting stranded passengers to Maui High. As of 10:30 p.m., the Maui High shelter reported about 25 people. Maui High School also is sheltering animals evacuated from the Maui Humane Society and associated staff. They have received an all clear and expect to return the animals to the shelter in the morning.
Kamaliʻi Elementary School is currently on standby in the event the fire situation changes and new evacuations are necessary.
“I want to give a very big mahalo to Maui High’s staff, the Red Cross, our County Parks staff and DOT staff as well as Roberts Hawaii for providing a shelter for these stranded passengers,” Mayor Michael Victorino said. “Maui High School and volunteers have been extremely generous and accommodating. I also am very grateful to those assisting Maui Humane Society during this difficult time.”
As of 8:30 p.m., the Maui Fire Department had contained 80 percent of the Puʻunēnē fire and 70 percent of the Kīhei fire.
“Mahalo to everyone who has volunteered their time and donated supplies to those affected by the fires,” Mayor Victorino said. “I’d like to remind all our visitors and residents to please stay safe and remain vigilant.”