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Suspicious series of brush fires in Central Maui under investigation

Fire crews extinguish a small fire on Wahinepio Street that was quickly extinguished and burned about 1,000 square feet of brush. MAUI FIRE DEPARTMENT photo

The Maui News

Officials are investigating a series of suspicious brush fires reported within a 90-minute period Thursday afternoon in Central Maui.

Fire crews responded to seven calls reporting brush fires from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, most of which were small and quickly contained, with the largest burning 5 acres along Maui Veterans Highway near the National Guard armory.

“It is suspected these are being set intentionally,” Mayor Michael Victorino said during the county’s news conference on Thursday afternoon. “We have video and some footage of a vehicle that has been seen in more than half of these locations. We also have a partial plate number and a description of a couple individuals who have been seen.”

The first fire was reported on Amala Place near the Kahului Wastewater Treatment Plant and burned about a quarter-acre of brush in the Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, according to the Maui Fire Department. The fire was extinguished.

A Fire Department helicopter drops water on a 3-acre brush fire near Wailuku Country Estates on Thursday afternoon. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

A second fire, reported on Wahinepio Street at Keopuolani Park in Kahului, was quickly extinguished after burning about 1,000 square feet of brush, the Fire Department reported.

On Thursday afternoon, fire crews remained on the scene of a fire that was 90 percent contained after burning about 3 acres of heavy brush mauka of Kahekili Highway. Earlier, homes on Kohukohu Place in Wailuku Country Estates were evacuated as a precaution. By 9 p.m., Kahekili Highway had reopened after a section between Kamaile Street and Waiehu Beach Road was closed due to the fire.

A fourth fire, which was extinguished by a private construction water tanker before firefighters arrived, was reported at Waiko and Waiale roads in Wailuku.

A fifth fire, reported near Hansen Road and Hana Highway in Kahului, was quickly extinguished and contained to about 200 square feet, according to the Fire Department.

A 5-acre brush fire along Maui Veterans Highway near the armory was contained within about an hour, the Fire Department said. Fire crews were assisted by Mahi Pono, which provided heavy equipment support to cut a control line around the fire perimeter, according to the Fire Department. The highway, which closed temporarily during the fire, had reopened in both directions as of 4 p.m., according to the county.

No fire was found when crews responded to a report of a seventh fire near Honoapiilani Highway and Pilikana Place in Wailuku.

No injuries or damages were reported from any of the fires.

“I’m warning these individuals and others if you are going to have fun on our behalf, be careful,” Victorino said, noting authorities will prosecute “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Wildfire season is here,” he added. “If you see anything that is suspicious, please call the police department or the fire department and let them know what you see.”

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