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Fire Department is fighting uncontrolled 2,500-acre fire

Strong winds cited for rapid growth of blaze

A fast moving brush fire rages in former sugar cane fields near Haleakala Highway and just downhill from Pukalani on Thursday afternoon. The fire had burned 2,500 acres by evening and remained uncontained as brisk winds fanned the flames. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

The Maui News

A 2,500-acre brush fire that started near Haleakala Highway below Pukalani, jumped Pulehu Road and burned south toward Puunene remained uncontained Thursday evening, county officials said.

Acting Fire Services Chief Chris Stankis reported that the fire was “growing rapidly due to strong winds” of 20 mph with a wind advisory in effect due to Tropical Storm Erick.

Stankis reported that no homes were being threatened and no evacuations ordered as of late Thursday afternoon.

The brush fire was reported at 1:53 p.m. and crossed Pulehu Road at about 3:45 p.m. The Maui Police Department closed Pulehu Road at Hansen and Omaopio roads and asked motorists to avoid the area Thursday afternoon.

A brush fire started near Haleakala Highway below Pukalani on Thursday afternoon, jumped Pulehu Road and was headed south toward Puunene later Thursday.

At about 7:15 p.m., the Pulehu Road closure was extended from Hansen Road to Opalipali Place in Kula and from Pulehu Road up to 4051 Omaopio Road in Kula.

Three helicopters were deployed to fight the fire. Two engine companies, two tankers, a battalion chief, an assistant chief and Fire Chief David Thyne responded to the blaze, county spokesman Chris Sugidono said.

Fire breaks were being cut and backfires lit to stem the advance of the blaze, Stankis said. Fire crews also were working to douse spot fires ahead of the advancing main fire.

Bulldozers and other equipment from Goodfellow Bros., Mahi Pono and Alpha Construction assisted the Fire Department, fire officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, said Stankis.

Traffic flows on Haleakala Highway on Thursday afternoon as a brush fire burns nearby. Pulehu Road was closed Thursday afternoon and remained closed at 7:30 p.m.

“This is a very fast-moving fire that remains uncontained so I ask all of our residents and visitors to stay out of the area,” said Mayor Michael Victorino, who was at the scene, Thursday afternoon. “Our first responders are working diligently and I ask everyone to be cautious and stay informed.”

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