Maui wildfire that scorched 4,100 acres now 90% contained

Published: Oct. 4, 2019 at 11:33 AM HST
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MAUI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A wildfire in West Maui that triggered evacuations and forced road closures Wednesday is now 90% contained.

Fire crews are continuing to put out hotspots, especially in perimeter areas of the brush fire.

At last check, the blaze has scorched more than 4,100 acres since it started Wednesday morning.

By early Thursday, firefighters appeared to have gotten the upper hand on the blaze.

But flare-ups continue ― and so do the disruptions.

The wildfire started around 9 a.m. Wednesday in steep terrain near the Kaheawa Wind Power, then spread downslope toward Honoapiilani Highway.

At one point, the staff at the wind farm was forced to evacuate.

The farm closure may have caused power to go out for more than 18,000 customers from Hana to Lahaina. Power was restored by 11:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Then around 5 p.m., authorities started to evacuate residents who live along Maalaea Bay Road after flames neared the area.

The evacuations had been lifted by Thursday morning.

But overnight, the evacuations and highway closures forced roughly 470 people to stay overnight at emergency shelters at Maui High and Princess Nahienaena Elementary School, officials said.

Those shelters closed at around 7 a.m. Thursday.

Firefighters are working to douse a large wildfire in West Maui.
Firefighters are working to douse a large wildfire in West Maui.(Image: Blake Remelb)

Makawao resident Lucas Zarro said the closure had cut off residents and tourists trying to get in and out of the area.

“A lot of tourists and a lot of workers are probably going to be cut off getting to and from Central Maui and West Maui, which can have a huge impact,” Zarro said.

One driver recalled seeing how close the flames got to the road.

“As soon as we started toward the tunnel, we’re like, ‘oh my gosh, there’s flames!’" the driver said. "And they got really close and one guy actually started turning his vehicle around.”

No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged.

The annual Maui Fair, slated to run from Thursday through Sunday, will still go on as planned, Mayor Mike Victorino said.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

It’s still unclear what level of containment firefighters had on the fire.

This story will be updated.

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