UPDATE: 6 Central Maui fires within 90 minutes deemed ‘suspicious’ by MFD
UPDATE 5:15 P.M.: Maui Fire Department confirmed that the seven fire calls today between a 90-minute time span in Central Maui are suspicious in nature and under investigation.
Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro in a news release this evening said that no injuries or damages have been reported as a result of six fires between 1 and 2:30 p.m. today. The seventh fire was reported but when crews arrived on scene, no fire was found.
Five fires were extinguished by the afternoon, and one fire in macadamia nut fields mauka of Kahekili Highway was 90% contained.
During the press briefing Thursday afternoon, Mayor Michael Victorino said police and fire officials have video and other footage of a vehicle that has been seen at more than half of the locations, a partial plate number and a description of a couple individuals.
“I’ll warn these individuals: If you think you are going to have fun on our behalf, be careful because we will press the fullest extent of the law to make sure you’re punished accordingly,” Victorino said. “Fires are not funny because homes, businesses and lives are put in jeopardy. Our firefighters are out there, are helicopters are up in the air, something goes wrong and somebody is hurt or killed, that’s not funny anymore.”
MFD said locations of the fire reports include the following:
• The first was reported on ʻAmala Place in the area of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
That fire burned about one-quarter acre of brush within the Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. This fire has been extinguished.
• The second fire was reported on Wahinepiʻo Street at Keōpūolani Park. That fire was quickly extinguished and burned approximately 1,000 square feet of brush.
• The third fire was reported in heavy brush mauka of Kahekili Highway. Fire crews are
still on scene working to contain this fire. It is currently 90% contained and has burned
approximately 3 acres. Homes on Kohukoku Place were evacuated earlier as a precaution.
Crews will remain on scene and work toward 100% containment.
• The fourth fire was reported at the intersection of Waikō and Waiʻale roads. This fire was
put out by a private construction water tanker prior to MFD arrival.
• The fifth fire was reported near the intersection of Hansen Road and Hāna Highway. It was quickly extinguished and contained to approximately 200 square feet.
• The sixth fire was reported on Maui Veterans Highway near the National Guard Armory. It was contained within an hour or so. MFD crews were assisted by Mahi Pono, which provided heavy equipment support to cut a control line around the fire perimeter. Five acres of brush burned.
• The last fire was reported in the area of Honoapiʻilani Highway and Pilikana Place. Crews responded but no fire was found.
UPDATE AT 4:30 P.M.: Mayor Michael Victorino during his Thursday afternoon press conference said that officials believe the multiple Maui fires today are being intentionally set.
“You’re having fires in Pūlehu, you’re having fires on Veterans Highway, you have fires here in Waiehu — they are too spread out, and so we believe they are being intentionally set,” he said. “And whoever the individual or individuals, we are diligently looking into matter and trying to see if we can apprehend them before they hurt someone.”
The mayor added that telephone poles and electric wires have been burned, but so far no structural damage has occurred on Maui.
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Maui fire crews are battling multiple brush fires in the Central Maui area. We have unconfirmed reports of at least a half dozen different fires of varying sizes reported this afternoon.
The fires resulted in the temporary closure of the Kahekili Highway in Wailuku, and the Maui Veterans Highway in Puʻunēnē. The Veterans Highway reopened shortly after 4 p.m. There were also evacuations on Kamaile Street in Wailuku Country Estates earlier this afternoon. Crews were also called to ʻAmala Place in the vicinity of the Kanahā Wildlife Sanctuary for a brush fire there.
Of the fires reported, the one along the Maui Veterans Highway is the largest, however size estimates are pending release from authorities. At around 4:11 p.m., witnesses tell us the highway is open, but traffic slows down near the Armory where crews are still working on getting the blaze extinguished.
Highlights are posted below:
- Kahekili Highway is closed from Kamaile Street to Waiehu Beach Road due to a large brush fire. As of 1:24 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2022, crews were evacuating homes on Kamaile Street in Wailuku Country Estates.
- The Maui Veterans Highway fronting the Puʻunēnē Armory was closed earlier this afternoon due to a large brush fire, according to the Maui Police Department. The closure went into effect at around 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2022, and the road was reopened shortly after 4 p.m.
- Fire crews are mopping up a brush fire in the vicinity of the Kanahā Wildlife Sanctuary in Central Maui. Two state fire trucks were on scene at around 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
The Maui Emergency Management Agency issued an update at 2:55 p.m. acknowledging the multiple fires.
The notice states that there are no evacuations at this time, but advises the public to monitor information and be prepared. The public should avoid fire areas, expect road closures and slowed traffic as safety vehicles and personnel operate equipment.
According to MEMA, residents in the area should be prepared for possible power outages and road closures, and be ready if public safety personnel determine that evacuations are necessary.
*Check back for updates, which will be posted as more information becomes available.