Officials: Huge Maui brushfire finally out - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Officials: Huge Maui brushfire finally out

Fire crews on scene Tuesday Fire crews on scene Tuesday

WEB EXTRA: Slide show: Brushfire burning on Maui

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

MAALAEA, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) – The largest brushfire ever to impact the island of Maui is finally out, according to officials. An estimated 6,200 acres was burned. The blaze was officially declared extinguished at 12:30 PM Monday, after almost a week of road closures, evacuations and heavy smoke plumes that could be seen for miles.

"We can never say enough to thank our firefighters, police, supporting agencies, businesses, and community organizations for their hard work throughout these past several days as we dealt with such a massive brushfire. Despite the difficulties that the fire imposed on our island, our community did not hesitate to help others in need - something we can all be proud of" said Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation on Tuesday. No structures were damaged in the blaze. Investigators have still not determined what caused it.


The huge fire started as a glow on the mountainside above Maalaea around 10:00 PM Monday June 7.

"I actually drove by around 10:30 last night, talked to some guys on the highway that were fishing in the harbor, they saw a big flash of light and then the flames start," Maui resident and photographer Kevin Olson said.

By Tuesday morning, it had spread to 300 acres above Maalaea and Connect Now viewers across Maui captured the images as 40-mile per hour gusts fanned the flames.

"Then all of a sudden the wind picked it up and took it and it was jumping about 1/2-mile jumps all the time, and it probably doubled or tripled all the way down the side of the island," Olson said.

The blaze threatened Honoapiilani Highway, shutting it down, cutting off people from the west side.

100 people were forced from homes, their shoreline camps, the Pali Lookout and the Kaheawa Wind Farm. Seven employees were told to get out, as smoke surrounded the wind turbines.

"As far as you could see the ridges were scorched and burning," Olson said.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares called in the National Guard, two Black Hawks, along with seven helicopters, that attacked from above.

77 firefighters and 19 state forestry workers worked from the ground and as the fight in Maalaea went on. Tuesday, one firefighter was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

The cost of this blaze and the cause is still unknown.

"Fortunately we had a fire a few months ago, so most of the fuel for the fire is gone," Olson said.

The Red Cross did set up two shelters for any evacuees early in the week, but no one needed to check in.





Photo sources: Kevin J. Olson Photography, Dave Thomas, Amber Kanai and Pam Daoust via Connect Now

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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