Maui officials ask for public’s help in stopping brush fires

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and Fire Chief Jeff Murray asked for the public’s help in stopping the brush fires happening on Maui this year.

The most recent and largest fire consumed 87 acres in Kaupo and cost the Department of Fire and Public Safety an estimated $82,000 to battle.

Flames were first spotted on July 13 and because of constant flare-ups the fire was not called extinguished until Monday, July 22 at 4 p.m., nine days later.

Fire investigators believe the cause of the fire was a piece of fireworks found at the scene, about 30 feet from the road.

“Because of the time of day and area where it was found, we feel that this fire was likely intentionally set,” said Chief Murray. “There were residences on Hawaiian homelands located above the fire, about 30 of them, and had it been drier we might have had to evacuate residents. This definitely could have been a lot worse.”

According to Department of Fire and Public Safety statistics, there have been 221 brush fires reported on Maui so far this year, compared to 272 brush fires reported last year.

This year’s fires included eight that had been set in Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company cane fields from May to June. One of those fires on June 16 forced the evacuation of Mama’s Fish House in Kuau and shut down Hana Highway for several hours.

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to share what they know with investigators.

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