Hawaii wildfire forces evacuations, cuts power in Maui

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 13, 2019

A brush fire that erupted over fallow land Thursday morning in Maui caused thousands to be evacuated and temporarily disrupted the island's primary airport.

An evacuation notice was sent to the cellphones of residents in the town of Maalaea and in parts of Kihei, a Maui County official said. He said firefighters would monitor it overnight but that it was too risky to battle the blaze in the dark.

"Once it gets dark, and we haven't been able to contain this fire, we're in trouble".

A Hawaii brush fire so large it could be seen from outer space triggered the temporary evacuation of almost 600 people as it tore through about 10,000 acres of old sugar cane fields and dry vegetation, according to new reports.

A National Weather Service satellite photo showing smoke hanging over the island was posted online.

The brush fire was reported about 10:30 a.m., local time, and steady winds of up to 20 miles per hour fanned the flames, officials said.

Thousands were ordered evacuated, but it was unclear how many people fled the west Maui coastal communities of Maalaea and Kihei.

Reuters reports that about 500 people had evacuated to three shelters.

No injuries or damage to structures were reported, but some farm equipment had burned, HawaiiNewsNow reported.

For roadways, North Kihei Road, Kuihelani Highway and Maui Veterans Highway reopened Thursday night to two-way traffic.

Multiple people sent tweets asking Oprah Winfrey to open a private road through her property on Maui, to allow people to escape from Kihei.

There were also concerns about the safety of hundreds of dogs, cats and other animals threatened by the blaze, with the the Maui Humane Society rescuing several hundred of them.

County of Maui activated its Emergency Operations Center to respond to the fire Thursday morning.

According to Hawaii's Department of Transportation, flights had been diverted from Kahului Airport, which was operating briefly on a power generator a result of the fire, but power has been restored and flights have resumed, transportation officials said.

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