Three brushfires on the West Side keep firefighters busy
LAHAINA – Last week Thursday morning, July 30, Maui fire crews responded to three separate brush fires in West Maui within the span of an hour.
At 10:50 a.m., fire crews responded to multiple reports of a brushfire starting up along Kai Hele Ku Street in Launiupoko.
A Lahaina ladder crew arrived at 11 a.m. and was able to contain a grass fire found burning on the north side of Kai Hele Ku Street just below the roundabout at Haniu Street.
The fire burned just over an acre of grass. The fire was called contained at 11:13 a.m. and extinguished at 12:10 p.m. The Lahaina ladder and water tanker, and a Napili engine responded to the incident. The cause was undetermined.
At 11:39 a.m., emergency dispatchers sent fire crews to the second reported brushfire at North Hakau Place in Lahaina.
A Kihei engine company covering the Lahaina District while Lahaina crews were at the Launiupoko fire arrived at 11:48 a.m. and initially thought it was a structure fire because of dark black smoke coming from the garage port.
It was later discovered that there was a homeless encampment burning in the Kahoma Stream gulch to the rear of homes on North Hakau Place. That fire burned a 50- by 50-foot area of trash and a makeshift shelter built of wooden pallets and lumber.
At one point, it came within 20 feet of structures, melting plastic storage cans from the heat. No structure damage or injuries were reported.
The fire was called contained at 12:56 p.m. and extinguished at 2:49 p.m. Two engine crews from Kihei and Napili responded to the incident. At 11:52 a.m., fire crews were alerted to another fire in the Kahoma Stream gulch on North Hopoe Place, burning two streets above the North Hakau fire.
A Wailuku engine company responded to that fire, along with the Lahaina engine company that was pulled out of a training class they were attending in Kahului.
Before a fire engine could arrive, an off-duty firefighter was able to control the fire using fire hoses connected straight to a fire hydrant that he retrieved from a fire crew two streets below. The Air 1 helicopter also helped to control and contain the third fire on North Hopoe Place.
The Lahaina engine arrived at 12:17 p.m., called the fire contained by 12:36 p.m. and extinguished at 2:28 p.m. That fire burned a 2,000-square-foot area of brush in the Kahoma Stream gulch to the rear of North Hopoe Place. No structures were damaged and no injuries reported.
Fire companies from Wailuku, Napili, Lahaina, Kahului, Kihei and Wailea responded to the incidents in West Maui.
In the two brushfires that occurred in the Kahoma Stream gulch next to North Hakau and North Hopoe Place, fire investigators were unable to determine the exact cause of the fires.
Both fires were reported minutes apart, and both originated in and burned what appear to have been homeless encampments with no witnesses, Maui Fire Department reported. The area is heavily used and frequented by homeless people establishing makeshift shelters in the brush.
There were no injuries reported, and only a property fence sustained minor damages.