Mayor: Maui wildfires 100 percent contained

Two blazes burned a total of 9,200 acres in Central-South Maui and Puunene areas

Thick dark smoke billows over closed Maui Veterans Highway Thursday afternoon as the brushfire roars past the Maui Humane Society. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Maui News

Both the 9,000-acre wildfire that scorched Central Maui and north Kihei and the 200-acre fire in Puunene are now 100 percent contained, Mayor Michael Victorino announced Monday morning.

Firefighters planned to continue mop-up work until the fires were declared extinguished, according to a county news release. Crews continued to monitor the burn areas and put out hotspots with a dedicated emergency callback crew throughout Monday.

“Words cannot express how relieved I am that there were no injuries or major property damage from what were dangerous, fast-moving fires that required evacuations and road closures,” Victorino said.

Air quality improved Monday morning, compared to late Sunday when windblown dust and ash enveloped Haleakala from Upcountry to Kaupo and South Maui. The air quality index in Kihei was a “moderate” 94 on Monday afternoon, down from an “unhealthy” 190 on Sunday, according to the state Department of Health’s air quality data website.

“We would like to ask the public to please stay out of all burned areas due to hazards sometimes not clearly visible,” said Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro. “Hazards such as hotspots and underground voids exist. These voids are caused by roots and root balls burning under ground level.”

Any fire flare-ups should be reported by calling emergency dispatchers at 911. So-called “smokers” in the middle of burn areas are a lower priority than those closer to fire perimeter areas. The fires may continue to smolder for a week, fire officials said.

The 9,000-acre Central-South Maui fire was first reported at 10:42 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Kuihelani Highway and Waiko Road. It spread quickly south and east, jumping Kuihelani and Maui Veterans highways to north Kihei, forcing major road closures and evacuations of north Kihei homes and the Maui Humane Society.

The 200-acre fire, first reported at 1:30 p.m. Friday, began in the vicinity of the new Safeway and Lowe’s in Kahului and also triggered evacuations of nearby businesses.

Police have classified that fire as an arson case and have been looking for a “possibly maroon-colored Ford dually-type truck,” an early- to mid-2000s model with racks, that was seen leaving the Hookele Street fire area Friday. Anyone with information on the driver of the vehicle should email fire.damage@mpd.net or message the Maui Police Department through its Facebook page. Or, call 244-6434 or 911 in an emergency.

Overall, Victorino said: “I’m also very thankful for the tremendous hard work by our firefighters, police, first responders, private contractors, emergency management staff, County of Maui department personnel, volunteers and everyone who helped protect and care for our residents and visitors. It was a great team effort, and another reason I’m proud to say Maui no ka oi.”