Maui residents are allowed to go home, but wildfire persists

Cheryl Sanders
July 13, 2019

With fires raging on the island of Maui in Hawaii, Oprah Winfrey did her part to make sure people got evacuated safely.

The brush fire was reported at about 10.30am and steady winds of up to 20mph fanned the flames, officials said.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said South Maui is suffering from poor air quality due to the large amounts of smoke created by the fire. It jumped a highway and spread across fallow fields and more brush.

Roads to Kihei have been reopened and mandatory evacuations lifted even though a brush fire that diverted some Maui flights continued to flare on Friday.

"We can't fight the fire tonight", he said, according to Hawaii News Now.

Reported at 10:42 a.m. near the intersection of Waiko Road and Kuihelani Highway, the blaze quickly jumped the Kuihelani Highway, while pushed by 15 to 20 miles per hour winds.

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

Maui Police Lt. Gregg Okamoto said at a news conference that as fire-related concerns have been growing, the island has been experiencing disruptions with people trying to call 911 to report emergencies.

The cloud of smoke from the blaze was so huge that it could be seen from outer space, video from the National Weather Service in Honolulu shows. The fire prompted thousands of residents and visitors in the communities of Maalaea and Kihei to flee as a precaution.

Power was out at the island's airport and flights were being diverted as the fire impacted access to it.

All roads were also opened on Friday, the County of Maui shared, and emergency shelters have closed.

Hawaii Governor David Ige sent a tweet thanking the media mogul "for giving @mauicounty access to your private road for use to assist in the #Mauifire".

The Maui Humane Society evacuated about 200 animals.

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 fire broke out as Maui is coping with drought conditions.

No structures have been destroyed so far, although county officials noted that some farm equipment had burned.

Other reports by iNewsToday