A brush fire burned 10 acres on Saturday and prompted Maui authorities to evacuate residents from a neighborhood of Lahaina — just a few miles from the site— before firefighters brought it under control.
Firefighters doused flames from above using a helicopter and with hoses on the ground, said John Heggie, a spokesperson for Maui County’s Joint Information Center.
The fire prompted an evacuation order for a residential area of Lahaina in the hills above Kaanapali resort hotels, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said. The fire was burning in the Kaanapali Hillside from Anapuni Loop to West Mahipulu, the agency said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were affected by the evacuation order.
At around 2:30 p.m. local time, Maui County officials said the fire had “stabilized” and was “not posing an active threat at this time.” Evacuation orders remained in place, however.
“Those not in the impacted area, please monitor your cell phone, radio, and TV for further information,” the agency said.
At least 115 people were killed and more than 2,200 structures destroyedtore through downtown Lahaina on Aug. 8, one of several that broke out that day on the island. Minimal rains have pushed the area into drought.
On Thursday, Maui County officials released the names of 388 people unaccounted for since wildfires broke out, the first such list to be issued.
However, within a day of its release, more than 100 of those on the list or their relatives came forward to say they’re safe, the FBI said Friday. Officials told CBS News that it doesn’t necessarily mean that those 100-plus have been removed from the list, because that new information still needs to be vetted and confirmed.
“We’re very thankful for the people who have reached out by phone or email,” Steven Merrill, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Honolulu, said in a news conference. “As we get someone off of a list, this has enabled us to devote more resources to those who are still on the list.”
On Saturday afternoon, Maui County officials reported that so far 99% of the Lahaina burn area had been canvassed for human remains by hundreds of federal personnel and dozens of cadaver dogs.
The Lahaina fire has burned 3.39 acres and is 90% contained. The cause remains under investigation.
On Friday, Maui County Officials announced that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency had a new interim chief, Darryl Oliveira, after its previous administrator, Herman Andaya,last week amid criticism for his agency’s response to the Lahaina blaze.
Oliveira is the former Hawaii Fire Department chief and also served as the head of the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency.
Andaya resigned Aug. 17, just one day after he publicly defended his controversial decision not to activate the island’s warning sirens when the Lahaina wildfire was spreading.
Andaya argued that sounding the sirens could have created confusion by sending Lahaina residents into the path of the blaze because they may have thought the sirens were signaling a tsunami, not a wildfire.
“The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the sirens are sounded,” Andaya said in the Aug. 16 news conference.
“Had we sounded the sirens that night, we were afraid that people would have gone mauka (mountainside), and if that was the case, they would have gone into the fire,” he added.
Maui County Thursday also said it hadover the fires, saying the utility negligently failed to shut off power despite exceptionally high winds and dry conditions.