MFD: It could take weeks to fully extinguish large Kihei brush fire

Updated: Aug. 12, 2019 at 3:22 PM HST
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MAUI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A brush fire in Kihei that started Sunday is 100% contained after burning about 270 acres, but firefighters say hotspots could be smoldering for weeks.

Officials said hotspots continue to burn in gulches and other difficult-to-access terrain.

“It could take days or weeks for the Kihei fire to be fully extinguished,” Maui County said, in a news release. “In the days ahead, residents and visitors can expect to see burning areas ... which will be allowed to burn out deep within the containment area.”

The fire was among three that broke out within about an hour on Sunday afternoon.

“We have had an extremely dry summer,” said Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino. “We’re just a tinderbox right now ready to blow up any time, any place because everything is dry from West Maui through South Maui.”

The Kihei fire near the Maui Brewing Company started 3:45 p.m. Sunday.

Fire crews staged equipment on the Kihei Charter School campus. After canceling Monday’s classes, the administration decided to reopen the school on Tuesday.

“There’s still some hot spots that they’re dealing with. The helicopters are flying and dropping water, but it’s looking a whole lot better,” said John Colson, the school’s chief operating officer.

The second fire sparked nearly an hour after the first one, burning 10 acres in Waikapu near the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and the Kahili Golf Course.

Fire crews were able to put out the flames by Monday morning. A portion of the highway had been shut down, but it has since reopened.

The third fire scorched five acres near Waiko Road, near the Apana Scrapyard. That fire was also extinguished, according to officials.

The fires prompted the county to partially activate its emergency operations center. No homes were threatened by the fires and no evacuations were ordered.

“We do have a high probability of future fires until we get some substantial rain on the island itself, especially on South, West and Central Maui,” said Victorino.

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