Maalaea Fire Burns 4700 Acres Pushed by High Winds

Maalaea Fire smoke seen from Kihei. Credit: Asa Ellison/Hawaii News Now

Maalaea glows at night from the intense fire. Credit: Catie Koraleski/Facebook

Honoapiilani Highway and North Kihei Road were closed down numerous times due to a fierce battle with a 4,700 acre brush fire in Maalaea on West Maui. The area has an extensive history of wildfires and has prompted countless road closures and evacuations. Maui County officials at one point urged "those in Lahaina to plan on eating dinner there before braving the gridlocked traffic to Central Maui."

Mobile office trailers and some construction vehicles were damaged during the fire and power lines were scorched leaving many without power. 

Shelters were opened for 100s of people needing a place to clamp down for the night. 

First responders rescued a group of hikers who were trapped up mauka.

Wildfire season is coming on strong. There are a number of ways to be prepared. Head over to the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! homepage for more.

From the Source:

"There were some construction vehicles and mobile office trailers that sustained damages from the fire but no monetary damage estimates are available. Communication utility lines near Maalaea Harbor appear to have been damaged by flames when the fire raced through the area by strong winds. No homes were damaged." - Maui Watch

"The Maui Fire Department would like to thank the public for their patience Saturday, while the road closures were in effect. Safety of the public and for firefighters working on the fire scene is always our top priority." - Maui Watch

"Maalaea Fire 2016 - Over 400 people waited out the road closures at War Memorial and another 75 or so at Lahaina Civic Center." Credit: Marc Nishimoto/Maui Civil Defense

"The Hawaii Red Cross, along with Maui Civil Defense, opened up two shelters at the Maui War Memorial and the Lahaina Civic Center at 6 p.m. Saturday. While both shelters were closed at 7 a.m. Sunday, they are standing by if they need to reopen later in the day.

"Of those that stayed in the shelters overnight, a great majority of them were tourists. There were a total of 472 people in the Maui War Memorial shelter and 150 in the Lahaina Civic Center shelter." - KHON2

"We had Polynesian tours and Roberts Hawaii buses literally dropping off people by the bus load. It was a bit hectic, definitely, at the shelters last night," Michele Liberty, the Red Cross Maui County director, said. - Hawaii News Now

"Kayla Delos Santos, who was traveling with family members from Lahaina to Kahului, said “it was in a grassy area on the left, a dry area, and it was a long, straight line of fire. I can say it was about two to three miles.” - KHON2

Road closures led traffic to a halt. Credit: KK Blogs/Twitter

The mauka side of the highway is mostly grassland. Witnesses say horses that normally graze in the field were moved to safety." - KHON2

"I lost all cell phone communication during this time so I really didn't know what was going on," she said. "After 4.5 hours of sitting in traffic I finally turned my car around and go the opposite direction around Wailuku and that traffic was even worse. It was an absolute nightmare." - Hawaii News Now

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa was caught up in the traffic Saturday and said events like this shows West Maui needs more alternative roads.

"Last nights brush fire was a perfect example of why we need an alternate route to and from West Maui. Our residents and visitors can be cut off at any time due to a brush fire, rock slide or even a bad traffic accident," Arakawa said. "I urge our state delegates, governor and lieutenant governor to do another environmental impact study that looks at every alternative to creating another West Maui route."

Arakawa added: "These events that cut off Lahaina from the rest of the island are happening all too often and we need to look for other solutions." - Hawaii News Now