Maui burns

Maui County officials closed all roads to public use in the town of Lahaina as wildfires on the Hawaiian island burned out of control, driven by high winds that the Associated Press said gusted over 60 mph. Hurricane Dora has passed to the south of the islands at a distance of nearly 500 miles, but extreme conditions and violent winds across the islands resulted in numerous power outages late Tuesday; firefighters struggled to reach areas cut off by downed trees and powerlines.

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Dora’s winds knocked out power and grounded firefighting helicopters.

West Maui is closed off to all traffic, according to a CNN report from Maui County. Only emergency personnel are allowed access to that part of the island.

NASA image, Maui firesThe BBC reported that some residents were forced to jump into the ocean ahead of racing flames; the Coast Guard said at least a dozen people were rescued from the water. Local media reported “apocalyptic scenes” in the historic town of Lahaina, parts of which were destroyed or severely damaged. The Lahaina fire is one of at least seven now burning in the state.

A local CBS affiliate reported that dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed on the western part of the island of Maui, the second largest and third most populated island in the state. HawaiiNewsNow reported that witnesses described apocalyptic scenes Tuesday. Residents say an overwhelmed fire force, fighting flames all day in powerful winds, could do little as flames ripped through Lahaina.

Videos from the island show the historic town’s main street and local businesses burning. “Buildings on both sides were engulfed,” local business owner Alan Dickar told CBS.

“Hawaii National Guardsmen have been activated and are currently on Maui assisting Maui Police Department at traffic control points,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaii’s adjutant general. The overnight deployment was hastened by the dynamic fire conditions, and additional National Guard personnel are expected to arrive in Maui and Hawaii counties later Wednesday, Hara said.

Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke, who is acting while Gov. Josh Green is traveling out of state, issued an emergency proclamation Tuesday that activated the Guard. Updated road closures and other emergency notices are posted on the County of Maui facebook page.


Wildfire on Maui causes evacuations, burns 10,000 acres

wildfire on Maui Thursday
A wildfire on Maui Thursday burned 10,000 acres and forced thousands of people to evacuate. Photo courtesy of the County of Maui.

A wildfire that erupted Thursday morning on the Hawaii island of Maui burned 10,000 acres and forced thousands to evacuate. Most of the residents returned to their homes Thursday night but the fire is still active in places.

Reported at 10:42 a.m. near the intersection of Waiko Road and Kuihelani Highway, the blaze quickly jumped the Kuihelani Highway, while pushed by 15 to 20 mph winds.

wildfire Maui detected by satellite july 11 2019
Wildfire on Maui detected by a satellite, July 11, 2019.

The Fire Department’s two helicopters, Air One and Air Two, dropped water, and private companies and the County Department of Public Works made their dozers available.

The Maui Humane Society evacuated about 200 animals.

For a while Thursday The Kahului Airport lost commercial power and was running on generators. Incoming flights were diverted and 11 motor coaches and school busses were standing by at the airport in case visitors had to be evacuated to shelters.

Roads that had been closed, North Kihei Road, Kuihelani Highway, and Maui Veterans Highway reopened Thursday night.

Opra Winfrey, who owns a home on Maui, allowed County officials access to her private road.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.