Updated at 6:36 a.m., Friday, June 29, 2007
West Maui brushfire evacuees allowed back home
Advertiser StaffMaui police late last night allowed residents of the Launiupoko subdivision in West Maui to return to their homes, about six hours after they were evacuated because of a fierce brushfire that began Wednesday morning.
In addition, Honoapi'ilani Highway remained open at 12:05 a.m. today and the traffic backlog was gone, county spokeswoman Mahina Martin said.
The highway was reopened about 9:45 p.m., allowing hundreds of residents and visitors to reach their homes and hotels.
The fire, which has burned an estimated 1,980 acres, has moved more mauka, allowing Launiupoko residents to return home shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday, Martin said.
Earlier last night, the fire had burned one cottage in Launiupoko and was licking at the backyards of others. But early this morning the flare-ups were more mauka, and "that appears to have opened up a safe window for residents to go back in," Martin said.
It was a repeat of the situation Wednesday, when residents of Olowalu Village were evacuated, then allowed to return later that night.
Firefighters remained on the scene this morning to respond to hot spots.
Although about 200 people were at the Red Cross shelter at the Maui High School gymnasium earlier Thursday evening, by midnight the crowd was down to about 80 as people were about to get to West Maui, Martin said.
Among those still at the shelter was a wedding party of 27 people from England, who had just arrived Thursday night. They could not get their rental car right away and planned to spend the night in the gym.