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UPDATE: Honoapi’ilani Highway reopens after smoke clears

UPDATE @7:35 PM: The Maui Police Department briefly shut down Honoapiilani Highway (30) to traffic in both directions from the Pali tunnel to Ehehene Street in Olowalu due a large brush fire moving east towards Ukumehame. Beach goers and campers in the area, to include Papalaua Wayside Park, have been evacuated. Nearby residents have also either been evacuated or put on stand-by for immediate evacuation. No property damage has been reported. Motorists should be aware that Honoapiilani Highway to and from West Maui may be subject to intermittent closures due to the changing conditions of the fire.

The roadway is currently open to traffic.

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*This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE @7:00 PM: The Honoapiilani Highway has been reopened after traffic was stopped for a brief period. Motorists should limit their travels to and from the West Maui area as traffic is expected to be heavy and moving very slowly. Conditions can change at a moment’s notice so motorists should be prepared for future road closures if needed.

UPDATE @6:15 PM: Intermittent ROAD CLOSURES have begun on Honoapi’ilani Highway at Ehehene St in Lahaina due to heavy smoke and poor visibility. EXPECT DELAYS.

As of 4:00 p.m., Friday July 8, 2016, the Olowalu brush fire was estimated at around 300 acres.

Three homes and their families have been evacuated from the Olowalu-Ukumehame area.

Earlier this afternoon, a structure on Ehehene Street was threatened, as fire advanced eastward towards the Ukumehame area. Fire crews and bulldozers from County Public Works, West Maui Land Co. and Goodfellow Brothers Construction were able to protect the home as flames ripped past the property and left the home unscathed.

Crews are currently cutting fire breaks and are protecting another home on Paekii Place, as well as preventing it from reaching the Ukumehame Firing Range.

The fire department’s Air 1 helicopter and two more private helicopters from Windward Aviation were making water drops by air. Bulldozers and water tankers from Maui County Public Works, West Maui Land Co., and Goodfellow Brothers Construction were assisting in the firefighting efforts.

Thirteen firefighters and heavy equipment from the State Division of Forestry & Wildlife were also assisting. About 40 Maui firefighters from Lahaina, Napili, Kihei, Wailea, Kahului, and Kula were fighting the fire in West Maui today.

In all, about 81 personnel from all of the assisting agencies, including MFD, were on the scene this afternoon.

The fire is located mauka of Honoapiilani Highway between mileposts 12 and 14, which is roughly between Olowalu Village Road and the Ukumehame Firing Range.

Cause of the brush fire has not yet been determined. No damages to structures or injuries have been reported.

UPDATE @1:00 PM: The fire department is asking motorists’ to limit their travels to and from the West Maui area. Based on the fire’s location and its expected path, road closures may become necessary for the Honoapiilani Highway this afternoon. The fire is mauka of Honoapiilani Highway between mileposts 12 and 14.

UPDATE @11:06 AM: At about 7:15 a.m. on Friday July 8, 2016, West Maui firefighters responded to reports of a brush fire in the Olowalu area.

Lahaina firefighters arrived at 7:38 a.m. and found brush burning in an open field north of Ehehene Street in the Olowalu-Ukumehame area.

This brush fire is a separate fire that is not connected to the flare ups that have occurred near the Ukumehame Firing Range.

Estimates are that 100 acres have burned so far. A battalion chief and about 2 dozen firefighters from Lahaina, Napili, Kihei, and Kahului are on scene. Heavy equipment from Goodfellow Brothers Construction and West Maui Land Co. are cutting firebreaks around the fire, while Air 1 and Air 2 are currently conducting water drops to stop the fire from spreading up the West Maui Mountains.

Maui police have evacuated 2 homes in the Ehehene St. area as a precaution, but they are not in immediate danger right now. No homes have been damaged and no injuries are reported.

The fire is being pushed mauka at the moment, so traffic along Honoapiilani Highway is not anticipated to be affected. The highway is open but motorists’ may experience slower than normal traffic due to the fire being visible from the highway.

UPDATE @10:18 AM: Nearby residents are being evacuated as a precaution. The fire is about a mile up from the roadway and does not pose an immediate threat. Traffic is not affected as the roadway remains open in both directions.

Fire crews are being mobilized to MP 13.5 on Honoapi’ilani Highway past Ukumekame (Thousand Peaks) and are encountering heavy winds and constant shifting conditions. Both Air-1 and Air-2 helicopters are also on scene doing air drops. The higher areas of the fire have no vehicle access and firefighters are trying to prevent it from burning towards the Pali and back towards the Lahaina direction. Crews are also getting help with tankers from West Maui Land Company as well as other equipment from Goodfellow Brothers. Fire command has created a Lahaina, Pali and Makai division to keep the fire from going towards the roadway.

At this time, ALL ROADS ARE OPEN.

Photo: Greg Gaudet‎/ MAUIWatch
Photo: Greg Gaudet‎/ MAUIWatch

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