Monday, 14 October, 2019

Hawaii wildfire forces evacuations, cuts power in Maui

Brush Fire in Waikō/Kūihelani Area Brush Fire in Waikō/Kūihelani Area
Patty Aguilar | 13 July, 2019, 08:47

A raging blaze led to evacuation of more than 600 people in parts of Maui as firefighters battled to keep it away from residential areas, Hawaii officials said.

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. At about 2:15 p.m., thick smoke was blowing across Maui Veterans Highway and vehicles were turning around at the Humane Society. "We're in deep trouble", Victorino said.

The 1,200 hectare (3,000 acre) brush fire in the island's central valley was uncontrolled on Thursday night, Maui's mayor, Mike Victorino, told a news conference.

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

Fire officials said winds blowing 20 miles per hour and higher fanned flames across fallow fields.

Firefighters have used helicopters to drop water in an attempt to quell the blaze.

The National Weather Service office in Hawaii posted a photo to Twitter showing smoke from the blaze as seen from an orbiting satellite.

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

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The County of Maui activated its Emergency Operations Center in the morning. Three shelters housed about 500 people late on Thursday, media reports said.

Oprah Winfrey, who has a home in the county, also gave officials access to her private road to help with efforts fighting the fire.

Flights at Kahului Airport were briefly diverted, but operations have returned to normal. 'A big mahalo to Oprah for giving Maui County access to your private road for use to assist in the Maui fire, ' Hawaii Gov. David Ige tweeted.

So. Maui is on fire.

Meanwhile, because the fire has damaged the electrical grid, Maui Electric customers are asked to conserve electricity between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on July 12.

The agency reported moving crates and kennels of animals to its evacuation site at Maui High School, Perry added.

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

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