Large brush fire closes Honoapiilani Highway

Lahaina-bound Kahekili Highway shut down

A massive fire was burning near town in West Maui. Structures have been destroyed and one injury reported. This photo was taken Friday morning.

Honoapiilani Highway been closed in both directions while firefighters respond to a large brush fire near Kauaula Valley that triggered resident evacuations while Hurricane Lane neared the islands, Maui County officials reported this morning.

The storm was downgraded to a still dangerous, Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, according to a 5 a.m. update. It was located about 180 miles south-southwest of Kahului.

The highway closure was from Maalaea in South Maui to Shaw Street in Lahaina. Earlier, the highway was closed only in the westbound direction.

Around 1 a.m. today, emergency personnel began responding to reports of a brush fire near Kauaula Valley in Lahaina, officials said. The 3- to 4-acre fire rapidly spread, and – as a precaution – county officials and Red Cross personnel evacuated as many as 26 people from an emergency shelter at Lahaina Intermediate School to the Lahaina Civic Center.

Police reported at 3:29 a.m. that Kahekili Highway, Lahaina-bound, was closed because of the fire. Motorists were advised to avoid the area.

Hawaiian Tel customers were unable to make phone calls in the Lahaina area, police said. And, cellphone service was sporadic.

Police said no injuries were reported as of nearly 3:30 a.m.

As of 4 a.m., 10 fire companies, tankers from both the Fire and Public Works departments and one battalion chief were at the fire scene.

At 12:31 a.m., the Hawaii Red Cross reported 381 people were in shelters in Maui County, including 57 at Lahaina Intermediate, 145 at Maui High School in Kahului, 75 at Lokelani Intermediate School in Kihei and 64 at King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani.