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Maalaea Fire: 4,700 acres burned as officials revise estimates downward

Maalaea Brush Fire - An ariel view of the fire damge caused by this weekend's brush fire in Maalaea. (7.3.2016) (Photo: Ryan Piros)

The brush fire that started in Maalaea at 12:33 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, 2016, is about 30 percent contained. The total acreage burned has been revised down to be around 4,700 acres.

Today, about 2 dozen MFD firefighters and a dozen firefighters from the State Forestry Division were dousing hot spots from where it began near the intersections of Kuihelani Highway and Honoapiilani Highway, to the Ukumehame area. The fire department helicopter and two additional contracted helicopters assisted ground crews with water drops around the perimeter of the fire, while a bulldozer from Goodfellow Brothers Construction cut fire breaks in problem areas.

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The main areas of concern are a heavily wooded area of large kiawe trees near the Ukumehame Firing Range that have been flaring up periodically throughout the day. There are smoldering kiawe trees well into the burned out areas that firefighters are going to let burn itself out. Our focus is on making sure the perimeters are completely out.

There were some construction vehicles and mobile office trailers that sustained damages from the fire but no monetary damage estimates are available. Communication utility lines near Maalaea Harbor appear to have been damaged by flames when the fire raced through the area by strong winds. No homes were damaged.

Around 14 firefighters remained at the scene Saturday night monitoring the area, and about 9 firefighters will be keeping watch of the area tonight.
Shelters at the Lahaina Civic Center and the War Memorial Gym in Wailuku, were opened at 6 p.m. Saturday, by the Red Cross, for tourists and Maui residents stranded on either side of the island by the road closures. All roads have been opened since around 11 p.m. Saturday night and are anticipated to remain open Sunday night so long as no significant flare ups occur.

Over 400 people waited out the road closures at War Memorial, and another 75 or so at Lahaina Civic Center. Photo: Marc Nishimoto via Maui Civil Defense Facebook Page
Over 400 people waited out the road closures at War Memorial, and another 75 or so at Lahaina Civic Center. Photo: Marc Nishimoto via Maui Civil Defense Facebook Page

The Maui Fire Department would like to thank the public for their patience Saturday, while the road closures were in effect. Safety of the public and for firefighters working on the fire scene is always our top priority.

Firefighers who responded to the 12:33 p.m. alarm Saturday afternoon, were called to the area for a possible flare up from a previous brush fire that occurred at 1:24 a.m. earlier Saturday morning. Although the original fire involved electrical power lines on the ground in the half-acre burned out area, it remains unclear whether the downed power line had anything to do with what started the fire. The Exact cause of the brush fire is still being investigated.

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