Maui News

5300 Acres Burned, Fire Below Pukalani 80% Contained

August 1, 2019, 2:22 PM HST
* Updated August 2, 7:17 PM
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Images courtesy: Maui Fire Department.

(Update: 4:13 p.m., 8.2.19)

Fire Below Pukalani Burns 5,300 Acres, 80% Contained

As of 3 p.m. today, the fire is now 80% contained, and holding at approximately 5300 acres.

“The continued rain, light winds and cooler conditions have aided in reducing fire activity,” said Chris Stankis, Acting Information Officer with the Maui Fire Department.

Fire crews continue to douse hot spots and flare ups along the perimeter. Heavy equipment is still working to cut and reinforce fire breaks around the fire. In addition to the heavy equipment operators, one MFD engine, a tanker and a battalion chief remain on scene.

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According to Stankis the department’s Air 1 helicopter has only been used for observation flights today due to the inclement weather and reduction in fire activity, but remains on standby if conditions change.

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“An investigation into the cause of the fire has revealed that the fire was accidental and caused by farm equipment working in the fields near Haleakala Highway,” said Stankis.

(Update: 8:15 a.m., 8.2.19)

Fire Below Pukalani Burns 5,300 Acres, 60% Contained

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The large wildfire below Pukalani is now 60% contained and burned approximately 5,300 acres. Callback fire crews are working to douse hot spots and establish fire breaks around the perimeter of the fire this morning.

“The arrival of rain early this morning has slowed the fire activity and is helping fire crews with containment,” said Chris Stankis, Acting Information Officer with the Maui Fire Department.

Fire officials say the fire burned primarily former sugar cane fields.  “Thus far the only damage has been to some MECO power lines, as well as some irrigation equipment owned by Mahi Pono,” said Stankis.

There have been no reports of widespread power outage and the cause of the fire is still under investigation as of this morning.

Pukalani/Haleakalā fire (8.1.19) Photo taken from Ōmaʻopio Road just after sunset with Kahului in the background. Photo credit: Al Schwartz

(Update: 7:30 a.m., 7:13 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 6 a.m. 8.2.19; 10:30 p.m. 8.1.19)

Fire 60% Contained, Pūlehu Road Reopened

The Maui Fire Department’s Incident Commander departed with Air 1 this morning to make assessments of the fire by air.  Acting MFD Public Information Officer Christopher Stankis tells Maui Now that weather this morning is limiting some of their ability to view the scene.

Overnight, crews worked to continue efforts at containment. Smoky air quality was reported across the central valley on Friday morning.  The fire had burned an estimated 2,500 acres by nightfall.

The blaze started at around 1:53 p.m. near Haleakalā Highway and crossed Pūlehu Road at about 3:45 p.m. Pūlehu Road was REOPENED as of 6:30 a.m. on Friday. No evacuations have been ordered. We are awaiting an update from county authorities on size.

The fire comes on the heels of large wildfires last month that scorched 9,200 acres in Central Maui. Arson was being investigated as a possible cause in both July incidents. The cause of the latest fire below Pukalani remained under investigation at last report.

(Update: 7:45 p.m. 8.1.19)

Roads still closed due to fire

Pūlehu Road will remain closed from Hansen Road to Opalipali Place in Kula and from Pūlehu up to 4051 Omaopio Road until further notice.

(Update: 6 p.m. 8.1.19)

Bulldozers cutting breaks to contain fire

Fire officials report the fire is on the Kīhei side of Haleakalā Hwy below Pukalani and is extending into the Central Valley. Responding units to the fire include E5 (Makawao), E10 (Kahului), Tanker 10 (Kahului), Tanker 14 (Wailea), BC2, Wildland Specialty Units, Air 1, Air 2, Air 3, MFD Fire Chief, MFD Assistant Fire Chief of Operations, Goodfellow Bros (2 bulldozers), Alpha Construction (1 bulldozer), Maui Pono (1 bulldozer, 2 rakes)

Fire breaks are being cut by bulldozers and helicopters are being used to make water drops. Fire crews are working to extinguish spot fires ahead of main fire. Pulehu Road remains closed.

(Update: 4:55 p.m. 8.1.19)

Maui Fire Department fighting 2,500-acre Pukalani Fire 

A large brush fire below Pukalani spread quickly on Thursday afternoon, burning 2,500 acres before nightfall and remained uncontained, according to County officials.

The fire was first reported at 1:53 p.m. near Haleakala Highway and crossed Pulehu Road at about 3:45 p.m.

Pulehu Road is closed at Hansen and Omaopio roads until further notice.

Air One, Two and Three have been deployed to the fire. Two engine companies, two tankers, a battalion chief, an assistant chief and the fire chief have also responded. Bulldozers and other equipment from Goodfellow Bros., Mahi Pono and other groups are assisting the fire department.

Mayor Michael Victorino said,  “This is a very fast-moving fire that remains uncontained so I ask all of our residents and visitors to stay out of the area,” Mayor Victorino said. “Our first responders are working diligently and I ask everyone to be cautious and stay informed.”

(Update: 3:20 p.m. 8.1.19)

Pūlehu Road is closed at Hansen Road and at Ōmaʻopio Road due to the brush fire. Motorists are asked to avoid the area. Please keep in mind that road conditions can change at any time.

(Original Post: 2:22 p.m. 8.1.19)

The Maui Fire Department is responding to a brush fire adjacent to Haleakalā Highway below Pukalani. The fire is at least five acres and growing rapidly due to strong winds. No homes are threatened at this time. No road closures are currently in effect, but this could change at any time. More information will be released as it becomes available.

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