More island wildfires possible with dry conditions forecast

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A brush fire in the Waiehu area of Maui Saturday afternoon was just the latest one in the past few days around the state. And a dry summer means the wildfire season could remain busy for several more weeks.

In the first of the fires since late Thursday, hundreds of residents in the Wailuku Heights area of Maui were evacuated from their homes at around midnight Thursday night.

"We saw a large fire, and a few minutes later we heard the fire trucks come out, " said area resident Robbie St. Sure-Lum. "And within minutes it had come cross the field right in front of us."

St. Sure-Lum said the flames came to within 40 to 50 feet of her home.

"There's a lot of dry brush, and a lot of haole koa in the front of us, and it just raged," St. Sure Lum said about the blaze, which scorched 60 acres, but it was contained just before 7 p.m. Saturday.

Another wildfire flared up Friday afternoon in the Niumalu area of Kauai. Three fire stations responded, along with a private helicopter company that scooped up water from Nawiliwili Harbor to drop on the flames. That fire re-ignited Saturday afternoon.

And on Oahu, fire crews shut down Kaukonahua Road between Wahiawa and Waialua for four hours Friday night as they battled a remote blaze that scorched more than a hundred acres near Waialua.

While parts of the islands, including Windward Oahu, have seen a few more showers so far in August, much of the state is still under drought conditions. And overall, the summer months have remained very dry. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Kauai has received 69 percent of its average rainfall between May and July of this year. Overall, Oahu has received 58 percent during the same period, and Maui has been parched, with only 39 percent of average rainfall.

While Wailuku Heights residents consider themselves lucky, they also know Valley isle firefighters have had their hands full.

"The firemen did an absolutely fabulous job," said St. Sure-Lum. "They've been working so hard lately, with the fires all over Maui."

It may remain busy for fire crews statewide. Forecasters are predicting continued drier-than-normal conditions into the fall.

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