Mandatory evacuations ordered for Molokai brush fire - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mandatory evacuations ordered for Molokai brush fire

Marie Yamashita Marie Yamashita
Kanoe Davis Kanoe Davis
Lester Kanini Jr Lester Kanini Jr

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KAUNAKAKAI, Molokai (KHNL) - Maui County police ordered mandatory evacuations on Sunday after winds changed course, causing a brushfire on Molokai to switch direction from mauka to makai.

Officers went door-to-door telling about 25 residents to get out. A Red Cross shelter opened at the Mitchell Pauole Community Center for those displaced.

Flames have been burning wildly since Saturday, 12:05 p.m., with more than 6,000 acres scorched so far.

Stubborn flames refused to die down overnight, leaving the town of Kaunakakai sleep-deprived.

"And when I did finally doze off for a while, when I got back up, the fire was all around our place," said Marie Yamashita, a Molokai resident.

Firefighters worked through the night trying to protect residents who say flames came dangerously close to people's yards - so close, you could see the fire across the street from Hotel Molokai.

"Because I have so much brush in the back here, I ended up soaking my yard for hours just so that it was saturated before the fire came," said Kanoe Davis, a Molokai resident.

The brushfire initially burned mauka, north of Kaunakakai, before heading for the town.

"It started way up in the hills and I thought oh surely it won't come down to my house," said Yamashita.

But the winds shifted, moving the brushfire towards a neighborhood with 100 homes. One home suffered damage to its garage. By 2:00 a.m. early Sunday, the brushfire triggered voluntary evacuations.

"It was a little scary for me, I was home by myself," said Davis.

At sunlight, four helicopters began dousing water over hot spots, and residents woke up thankful to find no homes with major damage, and no injuries among their neighbors.

"This is what's left. We have to wait it out, days of smoke and these weird dust storms," said Molokai resident, Lester Kanini, Jr.

"And it was the scariest, most frightening experience I've gone through and I don't want to go through that again," said Yamashita.

As of Sunday, the firefighter who suffered smoke inhalation the day before is in stable condition.

No word yet on what caused the brushfire.

Authorities urge residents to keep roadways in the affected areas clear for fire and emergency crews.

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