Massive wildfire on Hawaii’s Maui Island


A wildfire that broke out on Hawaii's Maui Island at 10:30 LT on July 11, 2019 spread to 4 040 ha (10 000 acres) by Friday morning. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate but were allowed to return after conditions improved.

The fire grew out of control by about 14:30 LT and was deemed dangerous enough to warrant emergency evacuations, Hawaii NewsNow reported

Emergency alerts were sent to mobile phones from emergency management officials that read: "KIHEI RESIDENTS NORTH OF OHUKAI RD EVACUATE NOW. KAMALII SCHOOL SHELTER OPEN NOW."

Fanned by 32 km/h (20 mph) winds, the fire grew to about 1 200 ha (3 000 acres) before the day was over and continued burning into Friday when winds slowly died out.

"We can’t fight the fire tonight," Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said at a news conference late Thursday, July 11. "We’re not going to send any firefighters into harm’s way."

Images credit: NOAA/GOES-West. Acquired: 04:00 UTC, July 12, 2019

Image credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS. Acquired July 11, 2019

Kahului Airport was briefly closed and flights were diverted because of the smoke, which also forced the closure of two major roads, but operations were back to normal around 19:00 LT.

No injuries or damage to structures were reported.

The fire was still an 'active threat' Friday morning, but winds died out and residents were allowed to return to their homes as conditions improved.

All emergency shelters were closed on Friday morning, but officials said shelters at the War Memorial Complex and Kamalii Elementary School may reopen if conditions worsen.​

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-West. Acquired: 04:00 UTC, July 12, 2019


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