KAHULUI - More than 400 acres of brush and cane fields burned Monday as firefighters scrambled to put out blazes they suspect were caused by fireworks.
A Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. executive said the company hoped to recover some of the 235 acres of cane burned in Paia off Baldwin Avenue between Holomua Road and Skill Village. That fire was reported at 12:22 p.m. Monday and closed a section of Baldwin Avenue for 90 minutes.
In four to five fields, 290 acres of sugar cane field burned, according to Rick Volner, senior vice president of agricultural operations. He could not put a dollar amount on the losses because plantation crews planned to harvest some of the cane this week.
Maui Fire Department Battalion Chief Frank Tam said engine crews in Kahului, Kihei and the Upcountry area responded to numerous fires throughout Monday, the official holiday for the Fourth of July weekend.
Four of the largest fires reported Monday were believed to have been caused by fireworks, he said. There were no reports of injuries or damage to structures.
In a 4-acre brush fire reported Monday afternoon off Kuihelani Highway, witnesses told authorities they saw four minors playing with fireworks just as the fire was getting started.
"The other ones we can only assume" involved fireworks, Tam said.
The other three major fires included the 235-acre blaze off Baldwin Avenue, a 3-acre brush fire south of the Paia sugar mill and a cane fire off Mokulele Highway. Those fires were extinguished later Monday.
In West Maui, firefighters stayed at the scene of a 130-acre brush fire throughout Monday night on vacant land mauka of the Lahaina Civic Center. Authorities described the terrain as difficult and said the fire was 90 percent contained as of late Tuesday evening. Firefighters remained at the scene to mop up and watch for hot spots.
The cause of the blaze remained under investigation.
* Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.