A brush fire, whipped up by gusts that generated "some huge balls of flames," had burned about 30 acres as of Sunday night in Puukolii and came within 50 feet of homes, according to residents and fire officials.
Several residents in the Kaanapali Hillside and the Masters at Kaanapali subdivisions described a small brush fire that appeared to be contained then blew out out of control suddenly when the winds whipped up.
Ruth Massey, who lives at the top of Mauli Street in Kaanapali Hillside, said that she saw a little brush fire.
A brush fire threatened homes in Puukolii on Sunday afternoon. A resident of Kaanapali Hillside shot this photo of Puukolii Road from Pihaa Street at about 5 p.m.
RUTH MASSEY photo
"It wasn't any big deal," she said.
Then the winds kicked up "like a whirlwind," and the fire "took off down the hill," Massey said.
"The winds picked up and everything turned orange, and it swept down the hillside," said Mike Sowers, another resident of Kaanapali Hillside.
He said the flames got to within 20 to30 feet of homes. Fire officials said the blaze got as close as 50 feet of some town houses.
Kathy Coombs, a Kaanapali Hillside resident, said the brush fire appeared to begin at the top of Puukolii Road and threatened three or four homes in the first row at the top of the street.
"It was close enough that we were worried," she said, adding that some of the homes that were threatened were unoccupied.
"There were some huge balls of flames sweeping down the hillside," Sowers said, estimating their height to be about 10 feet.
As of 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the fire was 50 percent contained, with crews remaining on the scene monitoring and mopping up throughout the night, said Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.
More than 40 firefighters and the Air One chopper worked to control and douse the blaze that was first reported at about 4 p.m.
The cause of the fire was undetermined Sunday evening. No injuries or damage were reported, he said.
Some residents were blocked from their homes Sunday afternoon while firefighters battled the flames. Sandy Ayeroff, who lives in the Masters of Kaanapali, was unable to return home at 5 p.m. because Puukolii Road was blocked off.
At about 7:30 p.m., she was trying to figure out whether to keep her reservation at a hotel. Puukolii Road was opened up Sunday evening, Mainaga said.
* Lee Imada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.