Fire again closes road

Fire again closes road

04 December 2004
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LAUNIUPOKO – Gusts estimated at 50 mph hampered efforts by seven units that responded to a brush fire, whose smoke and ash stopped traffic for nearly two hours Friday evening, fire officials said.

“High winds were pushing a lot of smoke, dust and ash across the road, so we had to close the road for about an hour and 45 minutes for safety reasons, because we didn’t want anybody to get into accidents,” said fire Battalion Chief Alan Cordeiro.

The fire erupted mauka of Honoapiilani Highway, a quarter-mile on the Lahaina side of Launiupoko Wayside beach park, he said. The 10-acre blaze was a flare-up of an earlier brush fire that blackened 20 acres before being extinguished early Friday morning.

Firefighting units from Lahaina and Napili responded to the 3:56 p.m. alarm, followed by assistance from Wailuku, Kahului and Wailea units and the Air One helicopter at 4:05 p.m., Cordeiro said.

Police closed the highway at 4:08 p.m. and reopened the road at 5:43 p.m. The fire was under control at 6:25 p.m., but crews were back on the scene a half hour later, monitoring hot spots in the interior, he said. Two Maui Land Co. tractors forged a firebreak around the perimeter of the fire, he added.

Cordeiro appreciated motorists’ patience during the road closure.

“The super-high winds hampered our operations. But our guys worked real hard containing the fire and stopping it from spreading, so we could get people back on the highways again,” he said.

There were no injuries or property damage, he said.

The cause of the fire is not known.

Elsewhere, a fire that burned 10 to 15 acres on a mountain ridge in Maalaea was contained Friday afternoon, he reported.

He said three helicopters dumped water on the fire Friday morning before being called off because of strong winds. On the ground, eight firefighters, certified as a Wildland Strike Team by the U.S. Department of Forestry, also battled the blaze.

After starting Thursday afternoon near power lines, the fire traveled up the mountain along a utility road that acted as a firebreak.

Cordeiro said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

He said firefighters worked round the clock, heading out to the Launiupoko blaze right after finishing the Maalaea fire. The American Red Cross provided meals for the crews.

“It’s been a long day,” he said at 8:30 Friday night. 


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