Hawaii wildfires force thousands to evacuate, US
A brush fire on the Hawaiian island of Maui forced the evacuation of thousands of residents, Thursday, 11 July 2019, as fire fighters struggled to contain the blaze. Officials on Hawaii's Maui Island say the wildfire has burned over 4 000 hectares and forced thousands of people to evacuate. On Friday, 12 July 2019, although the fire was not yet contained, evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes because the immediate threat had passed. Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on Friday, declaring the County of Maui a disaster area. The proclamation enables the state to provide quick and efficient relief from damages, losses, suffering caused by the disaster and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people.
“I am declaring our Valley Isle a disaster area for the purpose of implementing the emergency management functions as allowed by law. The emergency proclamation also authorizes the expenditure of state monies as appropriated to support speedy and efficient relief efforts,” said Gov Ige.
The wildfire started at about mid-morning Thursday in central Maui and quickly burned out of control. Maui Mayor Mike Victorino says the fire was about 20 percent contained on Friday and had so far damaged at least 9 000 acres of former sugar cane lands and brush.
The Maui wildfires that burned a total of 9 200 acres since Thursday were 100 percent contained on 15 July 2019. Mayor Michael Victorino made the announcement saying fire fighters will continue mop-up until the fires are declared extinguished. “Words cannot express how relieved I am that there were no injuries or major property damage from what were dangerous, fast-moving fires that required evacuations and road closures,” said Mayor Victorino.
According to a County of Maui press statement, the Maui Fire Department will continuously monitor the burn areas and put out hotspots with a dedicated emergency callback crew throughout today. “We would like to ask the public to please stay out of all burned areas due to hazards sometimes not clearly visible,” said Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro in a county press release. “Hazards such as hotspots and underground voids exist. These voids are caused by roots and root balls burning under ground level.”
County authorities say Central and South Maui air quality improved Monday morning, compared to late Sunday when windblown dust and ash enveloped Haleakalā from Upcountry Maui to Kaupō and South Maui.
Any fire flare-ups should be reported by calling emergency dispatchers at 9-1-1. County officials say so-called “smokers” in the middle of burn areas are a lower priority than those closer to fire perimeter areas and that fires may continue to smoulder for a week.
The 9 000-acre Central/South Maui fire was first reported at 10h42 on Thursday near the intersection of Kūihelani Highway and Waikō Road. It spread quickly south and east, jumping both the Kūihelani and Maui Veterans highways to north Kīhei.
The 200-acre Puʻunēnē fire was first reported at 13h30 on Friday and began in the vicinity of the new Safeway and Lowe’s in Kahului.
Mayor Victorino said, “I’m also very thankful for the tremendous hard work by our fire fighters, police, first responders, private contractors, emergency management staff, County of Maui department personnel, volunteers and everyone who helped protect and care for our residents and visitors. It was a great team effort, and another reason I’m proud to say Maui nō ka ʻoi.”
Source: The Daily Defender