Residents on the Hawaiian Island of Maui Are Allowed to Go Home, but Wildfire Persists

Wire Service
By Wire Service
July 12, 2019USshare
Residents on the Hawaiian Island of Maui Are Allowed to Go Home, but Wildfire Persists
A plume of smoke from a brush fire closes Kuihelani Highway in Central Maui, Hawaii, on July 11, 2019. (Matthew Thayer/The News via AP)

Residents who evacuated their homes on the Hawaiin island of Maui because of a wildfire are now allowed to return, the County of Maui announced Friday on Facebook.

But Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino cautioned that “This fire is still an active threat to our community, and residents are urged to remain vigilant of changing conditions,” in the same post.

Firefighters will continue to monitor the blaze that has consumed an estimated 10,000 acres of fallow former sugar cane and dry brush, according to the county.

The fire was reported Thursday morning at 10:42 a.m. local time near the intersection of Waiko Road and Kuihelani Highway.

The County of Maui activated its Emergency Operations Center in the morning. By afternoon, the flames were burning out of control and emergency officials sent a mobile alert warning nearby residents to evacuate.

More than 600 people fled as the blaze scorched 3,000 acres, the mayor’s office said. The Maui Humane Society moved its animals in crates and kennels to a nearby high school.

Helicopters were grounded after sunset, and they are expected to return to making air drops after sunrise, according to a news release from the county.

Oprah Winfrey has a home in the county, and tweeted a local resident to confirm that she’s given officials fighting the fire access to her private road. “A big mahalo to Oprah for giving Maui County access to your private road for use to assist in the Maui fire,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige tweeted.

Flights at Kahului Airport were briefly diverted, but operations have returned to normal. The fire affected access to the airport, which was operating on emergency generators. The Hawaii Tourism Authority advised visitors heading to or from the airport to contact their airlines for flight status due to power issues.

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