Honoapiilani Hwy remains closed, burned area estimated at 1,100 acres
(Update by Wendy Osher at 6:30 a.m. 5/4/10)
The Honoapiilani Highway remains closed between Maalaea and Launiupoko as crews continue to battle a fire that was first reported at around 2:30 yesterday afternoon. An assessment this morning determined the fire burned 1,100 acres and advanced overnight to Olowalu and is now near the main roadway. At least three helicopters are resuming water drops this morning.
The county anticipates additional air support today as well as they work under variable wind conditions. No injuries are reported, however one unoccupied home under construction was burned.
We received word from the Pacific Whale foundation that they are offering an emergency shuttle service with the first departure set from Maalaea at 9 a.m., set to arrive in Lahaina at around 9:45 a.m, and return to Maalaea by around 10:30. The shuttle will run every hour and a half. Cost is $10 and reservations are required by calling 249-8811.
On the roadways, the only way out of Lahaina at this time is taking the back road through Kahakuloa. It is being made available for Wailuku-bound traffic only. For those unfamiliar with the roadway, it is very narrow, windy, and can be hazardous. If travel can be avoided, motorists should wait until the main route is reopened. There is currently no access into West Maui from the central area of the island except for local residents of Kahakuloa who are able to access their homes via Waiehu.
Traffic in the Kihei junction area near Maalaea area is slow moving and impacted by the road closure of Honoapiilani Highway. Bus service is affected. Motorists are advised to avoid unecessary travel through the area.
County officials say shifting winds overnight resulted in the door-to-door evacuation of an estimated 100 residents in the Olowalu area at around 1 a.m.
The American Red Cross has opened a second shelter on Maui at the Lahaina Civic Center for anyone who was unable to get home due to the road closure. War Memorial Gym in Wailuku also remains open this morning.
Travelers in the West Maui area with departing flights out of the Kahului airport are advised to check with their airline carriers and plan accordingly.