Firefighters on Maui thought they had things under control with a large brush fire on Friday, then then a new fire to the north broke out, officials said.
The new fire near a business park in Kahului, on the north side of the island, was reported around 1:30 p.m. When fire crews arrived, they found a “well-involved brush fire,” Maui Fire Department’s Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro said.
“We thought we had pretty much one controlled, then a new one just broke out,” Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino said at a news conference.
No injuries in either fire have been reported. The new fire, which is being called the Puunene fire, was 80 percent contained, the county said in a statement Friday night. It started on Thursday in south Maui and prompted evacuation orders. The fire burned approximately 9,000 acres of former sugar cane land and brush, officials said.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes Thursday night, and by Friday night the fire burning in south Maui was 70 percent contained, the county said in a statement.
The new fire caused a Lowe’s to close down and the area had to be evacuated, the mayor said. A post office and the Puunene School, a former school built in 1922, in the area were evacuated.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation declaring a disaster area, which enables the state to provide quick relief and authorizes the spending of state funds.
Victorino said the fire had damaged the electricity grid, and Maui Electric was asking residents to conserve power Friday evening to prevent a possible power outage or brownout.
The mandatory evacuations from Thursday’s brush fire affected Maalaea and north Kihei, which is on the southwestern part of western Maui.
The area near the new fire is Kahului on the northern part of Maui, and the town has a population of around 26,300.