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Ukumehame brush fire burns nearly 30 acres

By Staff | Jun 30, 2016

UKUMEHAME – The West Maui brush fire that broke out at 12:18 p.m. last week Wednesday, June 22, blackened around 30 acres of dry grass and brush in an area subdivision.

At around 10 p.m. that night, the fire was estimated to be 60 percent contained. A heavily wooded area of large trees near the highway made it difficult to get complete containment.

Crews were seeing repeated flare-ups in the area. A Lahaina crew maintained fire watch overnight.

An area resident reported hearing a loud explosion just before flames were seen erupting from an open field just north of Pohaku Aeko Street and mauka of Honoapiilani Highway.

Winds quickly spread the fire makai toward Honoapiilani Highway, which forced a brief shutdown of all vehicle traffic for about 30 minutes.

While two helicopters made water drops by air, heavy equipment from the county Public Works Department and West Maui Land Co. cut firebreaks around the perimeter in attempts to contain the fire. West Maui Land Co. also assisted with two water tankers at the scene.

Fire investigators were not able to determine the exact cause of the fire, but they believe that it started near a group of homeless encampments discovered in the brush.

One encampment was overrun by the flames and was destroyed, but two other makeshift shelters were saved by fire crews. No homes in the subdivision were threatened, and no injuries were reported.

Twenty-six firefighters and a battalion chief from Lahaina, Napili, Wailuku, Kahului and Wailea responded to the brush fire.