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The search of the wildfire wreckage on Maui today revealed a wasteland of burned-out homes and obliterated communities as firefighters battled the stubborn blaze that has already claimed many lives, making it the deadliest in the U.S. in recent years.
Fueled by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, the fire started Tuesday and took the island by surprise, racing through parched growth and neighborhoods in the historic town of Lahaina, a tourist destination that dates to the 1700s and is the biggest community on the island’s west side.
A dangerous mix of conditions appears to have combined to make the wildfires blazing a path of destruction in Hawaii particularly damaging, including high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.
Resources and Shelters
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser
UPDATE: 1:30 a.m.
The Maui Fire Department has called for the “immediate proactive evacuation” of residents of Holopuni and Pulehu roads in Kula, subdivisions north and south of Lipoa Parkway down to Maui Meadows, and Ohukai subdivision in Kihei.
The Lahaina Civic Center shelter was moved Tuesday night to Maui Preparatory in Napili-Honokowai “to place evacuees away from impacted Lahaina town,” MFD said. Residents at the Kihei Community Center evacuation site was relocated to Maui High School “as a precautionary measure.”
MFD reminds residents that emergency shelters do not provide bedding, toiletries and personal care items, and pet owners must have pets properly restrained.
The emergency shelter at Kihei Community Center shelter has been closed, officials said. Evacuees at the center were moved to the Maui High School shelter as a precaution.
Maui fire officials are advising an immediate evacuation of Upper Kimo Drive in Kula due to a spreading brushfire.
Hawaii Department of Defense officials said National Guard support has been authorized for Maui County and personnel are now assisting police on Maui.
Maui County officials say 911 service in West Maui is not available. “For emergencies call the Lahaina Police Department directly at (808) 661-4441,” they said.
WEDNESDAY, 12:15 a.m.
The emergency shelter at Lahaina Civic Center has been moved to Maui Preparatory Academy, and a shelter has now been opened War Memorial Gym in Wailuku, officials said.
Other shelters open include Maui High School, the Hannibal Tavares and Kihei community centers on Maui, and Waimea Community Center and Hisaoka Gym on Hawaii Island.
Hawaiian Airlines, meanwhile, said late Tuesday night the brush fires were “not impacting our Kahului Airport schedule. However, as the situation continues to evolve, we encourage guests who are flying to/from Maui to check our website and mobile app for further updates on their individual flights.”
County officials called for evacuations east of Pi’ilani Highway in Kihei, including Maui Meadows, and for North Kihei, north of Ohukai Road.
TUESDAY 11:30 p.m.
The state Department of Education said four more public schools in South Maui will also be closed Wednesday due to brush fires and evacuations in the area.
The full list of Maui public school closures for Wednesday include:
Princess Nahi‘ena‘ena Elementary
King Kamehameha III Elementary
King Kekaulike High
Maui High (which is being used as evacuation shelter)
Updates will be posted at hawaiipublicschools.org.
In addition to the public school closures, Kamehameha Schools Maui and Aapueo Preschool will also remain closed Wednesday.
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued about 12 people from the waters off of Lahaina, the agency reported tonight.
People were reportedly jumping in to the water to escape smoke and fire ravaging Front Street.
The Coast Guard used a 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew from Station Maui. The agency said it continues the joint response with federal and state partners while its Cutter Kimball is en route to Maui to enhance efforts.
Videos on social media show the fires and smoke at Lahaina affecting entire streets, with massive fires visible from the sky.
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen has issued an emergency proclamation in response to the ongoing Maui fires.
In West Maui, residents have been evacuated during the fire, which, according to social media reports, has reportedly burned down buildings in Lahaina, including on Front Street. A county spokeswoman confirmed that there were multiple structure fires in Lahaina.
Reports of residents seeking refuge in the ocean to escape smoke and fire have been confirmed by a Maui County news release this evening.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been responding to the area and individuals were transported by the Coast Guard to safety, officials said.
A firefighter who was responding to the West Maui fire has experienced smoke inhalation and was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center, and is in stable condition.
Wahikuli residents in West Maui were evacuated this evening. The American Red Cross has opened Maui High School as an evacuation center.
Drinking water is available at Kula Fire Station, Kula Community Center, Rice Park and Crater Road, officials said.
Maui County has requested for National Guard support.
County officials report that cell phone towers and landlines are down in Lahaina and other areas.
Separately, the state Department of Education said Maui High will be closed to students and staff Wednesday after being turned over to emergency officials to use as a shelter.
Also, student boarders at Lahainaluna High School were transported to Maui High “to be picked up by family members or on-island emergency contacts,” DOE officials said. The Lahainaluna High campus will be closed Wednesday due to no power, wind damage and evacuations, they said.
Hawaiian Electric Co. advises residents to stay at least 30 feet or more away from downed power lines, which may be energized. Downed power lines can be reported to 911 or Hawaiian Electric’s trouble line at 808-871-7777.
Maui County officials are warning the public to stay away from Lahaina amid reports of major fire damage and large-scale evacuations.
”Multiple Road Closures in Lahaina Town. Do NOT go to Lahaina town,” county officials tweeted tonight.
Keawe Street is closed from Honoapiilani Highway to Lahaina Bypass, and Honoapiilani is closed to Lahaina-bound traffic at Leialii Parkway, while Kaanapali-bound lanes are open for resident leaving Lahaina.
Shelters at Hannibal Tavares and Kihei community centers are open. Residents should bring their own food, water and supplies.
County officials are reporting that buildings have burned on Front Street in Lahaina.
Meanwhile, on Hawaii island first responders are continuing to battle multiple brushfires along the South Kohala coastline, Hawaii County officials said this evening.
The Akoni Pule Highway brushfire is still threatening structures in the southern portion of Kohala Ranch between Kamakani Loop and the highway. Access is available to the northern portion of Kohala Ranch, above Kamakani Loop, via Kohala Mountain Road. Akoni Pule Highway remains closed between the 6 and 17-mile markers. Multiple fires in the Mauna Kea Beach area continue to threaten structures, including one support structure having sustained significant damages, according to Hawaii County officials.
Guests at the Mauna Kea Resort have been asked to shelter in place. Access to the resort area will remain closed until further notice. Emergency Medical personnel are on the scene to monitor the situation and provide medical services if needed.
Queen Kaahumanu Highway is closed between the 69-mile marker and the Kawaihae Road Junction. A flare-up near Spencer’s Beach Park has also been reported, prompting a precautionary evacuation of campers in the area.
The Lalamilo fire in Waimea has been contained.
Shelters are open at Hisaoka Park in Kapaau and Waimea Community Center in Kamuela. Additional shelters may be opened based on need.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Hawaii’s request for a disaster declaration to provide assistance with the wildfire on Hawaii island, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said.
The decision under the Fire Management Assistance Grant program allows for federal reimbursement of up to 75% of the eligible firefighting costs.
“We’re grateful to our federal partners for their quick review and decision, which will help Hawai‘i County meet this challenge in Kohala,” said HI-EMA Administrator James Barros in a statement.
The fire has threatened about 200 homes in and around Kohala Ranch, which has a population of more than 500. The fire was also threatening a volunteer fire department, local electrical transmission lines, and an AT&T cellular communications tower in the area, HI-EMA said.
The fire was not contained and had burned more than 600 acres when the state made the request was made, officials said.
High winds have fanned the flames of multiple brush fires across Hawaii island and Maui.
Five public schools and two Kamehameha Schools campuses on Maui will be closed Wednesday because of the ongoing wind-blown brush fires on the island.
The public schools will be closed to students and staff due to “unsafe campus conditions and damaged caused by the heavy winds,” the state Department of Education said today.
The DOE said Princess Nahienaena Elementary, King Kamehameha III Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate, Lahainaluna High and King Kekaulike High will be closed Wednesday.
Kamehameha Schools Maui and Aapueo Preschool will also remain closed through Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Maui fire crews are continuing to respond to brush fires on Maui.
Multiple structures have burned and multiple evacuations are in place for the Lahaina and Upcountry Maui Fires, county officials said this evening.
The Maui County Emergency Operating Center is activated and in coordination with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency for state and federal resources.
Firefighters from Napili, Lahaina, Kihei and Wailuku have responded to the fast-moving West Maui fire that was fueled by strong winds, officials said. On the west side, evacuations occurred at Lahainaluna Road, Hale Mahaolu, Kelawea Mauka and Lahaina Bypass.
Honoapiilani Highway from Hokiokio Place to Lahaina Bypass was reopened at about 5 p.m., according to the county’s communications office, after crews cleared downed power lines to allow access in and out of Lahaina via Hokiokio Place. Motorists have been advised to expect traffic to be slowed through the bypass. Honoapiilani Highway in the Lahaina-bound direction was closed at Maalaea this evening.
In Upcountry Maui, firefighters from Kula, Makawao, Kahului and Wailea focused on the subdivision at Kulalani Drive and Kulalani Circle. The Maui Fire Department called for the evacuation of residents from the subdivision.
The Upcountry fire, reported at 12:22 a.m. near Olinda Road, led to early-morning evacuations of residents in the Kula 200 and Hanamu Road areas. As of this afternoon, the perimeter of the Upcountry fire was about 1,000 acres and reached as far as Kualono Place near the Kula Lodge, officials said.
The American Red Cross is staffing emergency shelters at Lahaina Civic Center and in Pukalani at Hannibal Tavares Community Center. Pet owners using the shelters need to have pets properly restrained.
Hawaii County officials said that “significant” progress has been made on the Akoni Pule Highway fire in the Kohala area.
The Hawaii Fire Department has lifted mandatory evacuations for Kohala By the Sea, Kohala Waterfront, Kohala Estates, and Kohala Ranch between Kamakani Loop and Kohala Mountain Road, Highway 250, because of the progress.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in an update this evening that residents from those evacuated areas can return.
Kohala Ranch between Kamakani Loop to Akoni Pula Highway, Highway 270 remains under mandatory evacuation, it said.
Hawaii County officials said that flare-ups near the Mauna Kea and Hapuna Beach areas are still burning and that an additional flare-up has been reported in the same area, just mauka of the golf course.
North Fairways at Mauna Kea and the Villas at Mauna Kea have been evacuated, and guests at the Mauna Kea Resort have been asked to shelter in place. Emergency Medical Services are on-site to monitor the situation and provide medical services if needed.
The Governor’s office has issued an emergency proclamation relating to wildfires in Maui and Hawaii counties fueled by Hurricane Dora.
Acting Governor Sylvia Luke issued the emergency proclamation on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, who is traveling. Green has been fully briefed on Dora and its impacts.
“We are closely following the wildfires caused by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora,” said Luke in a statement. “The safety of our residents is paramount, and this emergency proclamation will activate the Hawaii National Guard to support emergency responders in the impacted communities.”
The emergency proclamation also authorizes appropriate actions by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency director and Emergency Management administrator, as well as the expenditure of state general revenue funds for relief.
The Maui Fire Department, meanwhile, is calling for the immediate evacuation of residents from Kulalani Drive and Kulalani Circle as the fire in Upcountry Maui expands.
Fire officials are also advising residents of Piiholo and Olinda roads to proactively evacuate while they can.
The brush fire — initially reported at 12:22 a.m. in the Olinda Road area — resulted in the early-morning evacuation of residents from the Kula 200 and Hanamu Road areas.
As of this afternoon, officials said the perimeter of the fire was at about 1,000 acres, and that it had reached as far as Kualono Place near the Kula Lodge. They warned that erratic wind, challenging terrain, and dropping humidity make it difficult to predict the path and speed of a wildfire.
An emergency shelter staffed by the American Red Cross is available at Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani. Kaonoulu Ranch opened Oskie Rice Arena in Makawao for residents that need to evacuate farm and ranch animals.
Evacuations are also occurring in the vicinities of Lahainaluna Road, Hale Mahaolu and Lahaina Bypass Road following an apparent flareup of the Lahaina fire this afternoon.
Kahakuloa is closed to outside traffic. Only residents of the rural town of Kahakuloa Village are allowed to travel through the remote side of Kahekili Highway.
People on the west side are advised to shelter in place unless evacuations are ordered.
Multiple roads, including Honoapiilani Highway from Hokiokio Place to Lahaina Bypass, are closed due to downed power lines.
Hawaii County Fire Department, meanwhile, reported a new brush fire in South Kohala.
The brush fire on Hawaii island is estimated to have burned approximately 1,800 acres and is not contained, officials said.
Queen Kaahumanu Highway is closed from mile 69 at Hapuna Beach Road to the Kawaihae Road junction. Akoni Pule Highway near Kohala Ranch, remains closed at mile markers 6 and 16 due to the brush fire.
Hawaiian Electric reminds the public to stay at least 30 feet or more away from downed power lines, which may be energized. Downed power lines can be reported to 911 or Hawaiian Electricʻs trouble line at 808-871-7777.
On Oahu, the Honolulu Fire Department said as of 4:30 p.m. that it responded to 12 downed trees, five downed power lines and six blown roofs that were possibly weather-related. The brush fire north of Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park burned about 100 acres, and is now contained. Crews continue to extinguish the final hot spots.
Honolulu firefighters are battling a brushfire near Central Oahu Regional Park that broke out at about 10:30 a.m. today.
This one is north of the previous fire that burned about 25 acres near the park last Thursday, above the pool and archery range.
No homes are threatened at this time, according to the Honolulu Fire Department.
On Hawaii island, firefighters have expanded the evacuation zone for the brush fire that started earlier today off of Akoni Pule Highway and Highway 270 near Kohala Ranch.
The Hawaii Fire Department is requesting evacuation of the following residential areas:
>> Kohala Ranch, north and south of Ala Kahua Street
>> Kohala By the Sea
>> Kohala Waterfront
>> Kohala Estates
Hawaii County officials have opened evacuation shelters at Hisaoka Gym in Kapaau and at the Waimea Community Center.
The brush fire in Waimea near Lalamilo subdivision has been restricted within containment lines, according to the fire department, and the public is asked to avoid the area as fire crews remain on the scene.
Maui firefighters, meanwhile, continue to battle a brush fire reported overnight near Olinda Road in Kula that led to evacuations of residents.
The fire has burned an estimated 675 acres of pastureland as of about 9 a.m. today, according to county officials, along with two family homes. No injuries have been reported.
MFD remains on scene, along with state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife crews.
High winds, including gusts of up to 80 mph, made conditions unsafe for helicopter operations.
As of 7 a.m., 54 residents were at the emergency shelter at Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.
“Impacted residents are advised to heed emergency responders when directed to leave the area immediately with your family, pets and necessities,” said county officials in a news release. “Residents in nearby areas should stay informed and make preparations should the active fire reach close proximity and officials call for additional evacuation.”
On Maui, the following closures are in place:
>> Road closures: Kealaloa Avenue, Haleakala Highway at Lower Kimo Road and Haleakala Highway at Kula Highway are closed to motorists.
>> The County of Maui’s swimming pool and Department of Motor Vehicles satellite office in Pukalani have been closed due to smoke conditions.
>> Kula Community Center is closed due to the lack of power.
Hawaiian Electric crews continue working to restore power to several thousand customers in West Maui and parts of Upcountry Maui, and across Oahu.
In West Maui, crews are currently inspecting the three main transmission lines that provide power to the area for damages. They are also clearing debris caught in power lines, and repairing multiple downed poles and spans of lines in various areas.
In Upcountry Maui, crews are working to restore downed poles and lines in Olinda-Piiholo, and responding to outages reported in the Kula area.
Upcountry residents, meanwhile, are asked to conserve water as power outages affect the ability to pump water to certain locations.
Hawaiian Electric crews have also been responding to hundreds of power outages across Oahu caused by high winds.
High winds have damaged lines and utility poles, while downed trees have fallen into power lines.
Oahu outages can be reported to Hawaiian Electric’s trouble line at 1-855-304-1212.
Amid a red flag warning for the leeward areas of all islands through Wednesday, firefighters are battling brush fires on Maui and Hawaii island whipped up by winds from Hurricane Dora passing south of the state.
Shortly after midnight in Kula on Maui, a brush fire was reported in the Olinda Road area. Residents in the Auli’i Drive area were evacuated at 3:45 a.m., according to fire department officials. Then, at 4:50 a.m., residents of Hanamu Road were also evacuated. An evacuation order was sent at 5:32 a.m. for multiple streets around King Kekaulike High School.
Fire crews from Kula, Makawao, Kahului and Wailea are on the scene of the brush fire. The fire department’s Air One helicopter was launched at sunrise to conduct an aerial assessment of the fire.
>> RELATED STORY: Hurricane Dora passing south of Hawaii
Additionally, a three-acre brushfire was reported near Lahainaluna Road in Lahaina at 6:37 a.m., and residents in the area surrounding Lahaina Intermediate School were evacuated.
The Maui Fire Department said the Lahaina brush fire was contained shortly before 9 a.m. today.
However, power outages are impacting the county’s ability to pump water, and the public is asked to conserve water in West Maui.
Lahainaluna Road remains closed between Kelawea and Kuialua streets while Hawaiian Electric responds to a downed power line in the area. Lahaina District Courthouse remains closed today.
Honoapiilani Highway between Aholo and Hokiokio roads is also closed due to downed power poles.
The American Red Cross has opened Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani and Lahaina Civic Center as evacuation centers. In Makawao, Kaonoulu Ranch has opened Oskie Rice Arena for residents needing to evacuate farm and ranch animals.
Kealaloa Avenue, Haleakala Highway at Lower Kimo Road and Haleakala Highway at Kula Highway are closed to motorists.
Haleakala National Park’s Summit District remains closed to visitors until further notice due to blocked road access resulting from wildfires and high winds. All reservations for the Hosmer Grove Campground, wilderness cabins, and wilderness tent camping for today are canceled.
Changes to the park’s status will be posted at www.nps.gov/hale.
On Oahu, meanwhile, the Honolulu Fire Department said as of 10 a.m., there have been eight downed trees, four downed power lines and one blown roof which may have been weather-related.
Hawaii island firefighters are also battling brush fires in North and South Kohala.
Akoni Pule Highway (Highway 270) is closed between the 6 and 7 mile markers until further notice, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense. Kawaihae Road (Highway 19) is closed between Kawaihae and Waimea due to downed utility lines near the 63 mile marker. Motorists are advised to avoid these areas until the roads can be reopened.
Evacuation shelters have been opened at Hisaoka Gym in Kapaau and the Waimea Community Center in Waimea.