Some flames reached 50 feet high last week when a runaway fire roared through Maui’s central plains, consuming an average of 25 acres a minute, officials said.
“Everywhere we turned, we had this monster we couldn’t control,” Maui Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven “Hapa” Thyne said Tuesday.
Kahului station-based Thyne and Assistant Chief Richard Kawasaki, who managed the fire from its start July 11 to its containment Monday morning, recalled the 9,000-acre blaze that threatened homes, closed roads and caused hundreds to evacuate.
The two, who have a combined total of nearly 60 years at the department, were among the first on scene at the morning Waikapu brush fire that appeared manageable due to light breezes. Within an hour, though, wind spiked and dry brush fed the fire, which began leveling 30-, 40-, 50-foot-tall trees lining a nearby drainage ditch.
Nearly a dozen firefighters responded to a blaze that erupted from a makeshift boat or raft in Keehi Lagoon on Friday morning, the Honolulu Fire Department said.
The vessel was about 200 yards offshore when it burst into flames around 5:20 a.m.
The fire has since extinguished on the water.
Rescue crews searched the area by air and by boat after a first responder thought two people were seen in the water, but there were no signs of anyone in the water.
The search was called off and crews left the scene shortly after 6:45 a.m.
KHNL/KGMB-TV Hawaii News Now
Across much of Central Maui and north Kihei, black burn scars show where wildfires totaling 9,200 acres swept through open fields of dry brush July 11 and 12. Thankfully, there were no injuries or deaths.
But these fires triggered evacuations, closed roads and damaged a Maui Electric Co. transmission line, fiber-optic cables, abandoned buildings in brush areas, storage containers and some inoperable county heavy equipment near Kuihelani Highway. An evacuation at the Maui Humane Society led to staff and volunteers taking more than 200 animals out of harm’s way.
Now, firefighters work to mop up, responding to public reports of “smokers” and putting out flare-ups. The fires were declared fully contained Monday morning.
Residents and visitors should not go into burn areas. There may be unseen hazards, such as hot spots and underground voids caused by roots and root balls burning underground.