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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Olowalu brushfire still burning

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A brushfire in the area of Olowalu in West Maui has forced police to evacuate about 100 residents and close Honoapiilani Highway from Maalaea to Laniupoko Park.

Maui Police Department

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A brushfire that was ignited yesterday and forced about 100 West Maui residents from their homes early this morning continues to burn in the Olowalu area.

A county news release issued shortly before noon says the blaze remains active and has yet to be contained. Light but shifting winds have hampered firefighting efforts.

Five helicopters, six water tankers and five bulldozers are assisting 40 firefighters in the operation.

Honoapiilani Highway, which was closed from Maalaea to Launiupoko Park at 1:30 a.m. as flames approached the roadway, was reopened at 10 this morning.

The fire was first reported about 2:30 yesterday afternoon in an area mauka of Ukumehame.

An estimated 1,100 acres have since been scorched. There are no reports of property damage and no one has been injured. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

At 5:30 p.m. yesterday, police had urged residents living mauka of Honoapiilani Highway near Olowalu General Store to be prepared to leave, even though there was no threat at the time.

By then, the fire had consumed about 100 acres.

Firefighting efforts were suspended at nightfall, but fire crews remained on the scene through the night. At 1 a.m., with a shift in wind direction pushing the fire in the direction of homes, police moved in to evacuate residents.