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Brush fire scorches 6,200 acres

By Staff | Jun 17, 2010

At 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 10, strong winds fueled a flare-up a quarter-mile above the Kamehameha Golf Course Clubhouse. Photo by the County of Maui.

MAALAEA — A brush fire that was first reported here at 10 p.m. on Monday, June 7, burned an estimated 6,200 acres through 11 a.m. Friday.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

One injury was reported: a firefighter was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center Tuesday afternoon for smoke inhalation. He was treated and released.

On Tuesday, windy conditions with 40 mph gusts caused the fire to spread from Maalaea in a southwesterly direction toward Ukumehame.

With poor visibility from smoke and the blaze jumping Honoapiilani Highway near McGregor Point and the Pali Tunnel, Maui Police closed the highway from Kihei Junction (North Kihei Road) to Ukumehame from noon to around 6 p.m.

Approximately 100 people — including Maalaea residents and employees at Kaheawa Wind Farm — were evacuated from areas affected by the advancing fire and resulting thick smoke.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, the American Red Cross opened shelters at War Memorial Gym and Lahaina Civic Center.

By 6 a.m. Wednesday, fire crews focused on preventing the blaze from advancing further on the Ukumehame side of the perimeter, a half-mile from Honoapiilani Highway.

By dusk on Wednesday, the fire had burned an estimated 5,800 acres and was 75 percent contained.

At 1 p.m. Thursday, fire officials declared the brush fire 90 percent contained, but a flare-up at 1:30 p.m. scorched another 400 acres at Waikapu above King Kamehameha Golf Course. The flare-up was brought under control by firefighters aided by four helicopters conducting water drops.