MAALAEA - Firefighters caught a break Thursday as strong trade winds eased and a brush fire that broke out near the pali came quickly under control.
Four fire crews battled a blaze along Honoapiilani Highway on Thursday morning. The fire triggered a partial closure of the highway in the Maalaea area for about an hour.
The fire was reported after 10:30 a.m. and burned around an acre near the 7-mile marker on the makai side of Honoapiilani Highway, along the pali, said Fire Battalion Chief Val Martin.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
A firefighter advances toward a brush fire Thursday morning in Maalaea. The fire burned about an acre and was extinguished in about an hour.
The fire reportedly occurred before 11 a.m. Thursday. It was extinguished in about an hour, Martin said. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Fire crews from Wailuku, Kihei and Kahului and the Kahului water tanker all responded to the fire.
On Wednesday night, fire crews monitored hot spots and continued mop-up operations of a 10-acre brush fire in Kaanapali, the county said.
"This weekend the winds will pick up again . . . and there will be a surge in trade wind strength."
- Glenn James, Pacific Disaster Center, senior weather analyst
That fire was above the Honoapiilani Highway, north of Puukolii Road in Kaanapali. Multiple fire engines, water tankers and the Fire Department's Air One helicopter were dispatched to the scene. The fire was first reported at 2:27 p.m. Wednesday and was contained at 5:30 in the evening, county officials said.
The Kaanapali fire also was under investigation, fire officials said.
On Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service canceled a red-flag warning for Maui County. The warning cautions residents that weather conditions, including high winds and low humidity, increase the risk of brush fires.
Glenn James, senior weather analyst with the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei, said strong trade winds that buffeted the islands Wednesday had diminished by Thursday. Also, there was a greater likelihood that Maui County would see some increasing showers today and into this weekend, he said.
Two factors - weakened winds and the forecast of showers - led to the cancellation of the red-flag warning, James said. A gale warning for waters around Maui County and the Big Island also was canceled.
A high-surf advisory for east-facing shores remained in effect Thursday, and there also was still a small-craft wind advisory for all coastal waters around Maui County.
A cold front moving to the north of a high-pressure system was leading to the weakened trade winds, James said.
"That's what's taken the punch out of our local trade winds," he said.
But, a new high-pressure area was expected to move north of the state, leading to a rebounding of strong trade winds this weekend, he said.
Winds were forecast to continue tapering off today, but "they're not going away by any means," James said. "This weekend the winds will pick up again . . . and there will be a surge in trade wind strength."