Old cane field fire burns at least 2,500 acres

Traffic slowed, precautionary evacuations called

Old cane fields were ablaze below the Haleakala Highway-Haliimaile Road junction at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

The Maui News

A fire that clouded the skies with dark gray plumes burned at least 2,500 acres of old cane fields and brush, slowed afternoon traffic headed Upcountry and forced evacuations of the HC&D cement facilities and the Central Maui Landfill on Tuesday.

The fire began in the old Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. cane fields in the area of Haleakala Highway and Haliimaile Road on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Maui Fire Department.

The Fire Department responded to the 2:30 p.m. call and found an established fire that was growing rapidly and headed south, said Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro.

At 7 p.m., the fire had burned more than 2,500 acres, mostly located between Haleakala Highway and Pulehu Road, he said. Multiple county fire units, aided by public works, state airport and private crews, made “significant progress” but had not yet contained the fire, he said Tuesday night.

Smoke filled the sky Tuesday afternoon. An old cane field and brush fire had burned about 2,500 acres by Tuesday evening. BLAIR HAVRON photo

Crews were expected to continue battling the fire through the night, he said.

The cause of the fire was not determined.

At about 3:30 p.m., Yatsushiro reported that the Central Maui Landfill and HC&D cement company were evacuated as a precaution. There also were reports of power lines and poles burning; Maui Electric Co. crews were on hand to assess the damage.

There were no threats to homes and no injuries, he said.

The fire was visible from Haleakala Highway and the mauka-bound lane was closed, Maui police reported. Lt. Gregg Okamoto said all lanes were open Tuesday night.

Kihei is blanketed by a thick cloud of smoke blown across the island from a fire that began near Haliimaile Tuesday afternoon. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Pulehu Road also was closed in both directions near HC&D. That road remained closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, he said.

There were seven engine crews fighting the fire with three helicopters doing water drops until nightfall, Yatsushiro said. They were assisted by three bulldozers and personnel from Alexander & Baldwin, two dozers and a tanker from Goodfellow Bros., two tankers from West Maui Land Co., one dozer from the county Public Works Department and an Airport Crash Rescue crew from the state Department of Transportation.