With the kind permission of Maui County / Maui County
Hawaii emergency officials have ordered thousands of residents in parts of central Maui clear out as firefighters battle a fire that has devastated arid lands, burning about 3,000 acres.
The mayor of Maui, Mike Victorino, said at a press conference that four helicopters had been deployed to extinguish the blaze before dark, but at dusk, the night was over. The fire was still raging.
"Once night has fallen and we have not been able to contain this fire, we have problems, we have big problems," Victorino said.
Officials from Maui County said that a brush fire was reported around 10:42 am local time Thursday near the Kuihelani highway. Fire officials said wind speeds of over 30 km / h and higher flames on summerfallow fields. According to The Maui News, the fire has swept parts of the highway near Maui Veterans Highway, leaving it charred.
The officials did not say what could have caused the fire. No deaths, injuries or structural damage were reported immediately.
The evacuation to Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island with a population of about 144,000, filled local shelters, some of which are run by the Red Cross.
Oprah Winfrey, owner of a house in Maui, told a local resident on Twitter that she gave emergency responders access to one of her private homes. "Hoping to have everyone's safety," she tweeted.
according to at the Hawaii Ministry of Transportation, flights had been diverted from Kahului Airport, which was operating briefly during a fire, but power was restored and flights resumed, transport officials said. m said.
However, as the fire continues, tourism officials in Hawaii advise Visitors who plan trips to or from Kahului Airport to contact their airlines to check the status of flights.
Lieutenant Gregg Okamoto of the Maui Police Force said at a press conference that fire concerns were increasing, the island was experiencing disturbances with people trying to call 911 for report emergencies.
"I encourage the public, if you have to call 911, continue and you will eventually succeed," he said.