Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Hawaii governor declares emergency for Maui wildfire

Hawaii governor declares emergency for Maui wildfire

Thousands of people on Maui have been ordered to evacuate two towns in the path of a spreading wildfire, Hawaiian officials and media said.

Smoke blankets the sky as a wildfire spreads in Maui.

"We are asking everyone to conserve energy, conserve water, and do what you can to be prepared", Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said.

The fire on Maui, sometimes called the Valley Isle, has scorched more than 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of former sugar cane fields and brush since erupting on Thursday, and by Friday was 20 percent contained, island officials said in a statement.

Hawaii Wildfire Management says "many people and animals" have been displaced due to the "fast moving brush fire", which is burning between Kahului and Kihei.

"We can't fight the fire tonight".

Winds of up to 20 miles per hour helped the flames from the fire to spread, according to officials.

The National Weather Service office in Hawaii posted a photo to Twitter showing smoke from the blaze as seen from an orbiting satellite. Two helicopters from the fire department also dropped water on the blaze to try to contain it. The fire prompted thousands of residents and visitors in the communities of Maalaea and Kihei to flee as a precaution.

According to Hawaii's Department of Transportation, flights had been diverted from Kahului Airport, which was operating briefly on a power generator a result of the fire, but power has been restored and flights have resumed, transportation officials said. Three shelters housed about 500 people late on Thursday, media reports said.

All roads were also opened on Friday, the County of Maui shared, and emergency shelters have closed.

Opra Winfrey, who owns a home on Maui, allowed County officials access to her private road. 'A big mahalo to Oprah for giving Maui County access to your private road for use to assist in the Maui fire, ' Hawaii Gov. David Ige tweeted.

Meanwhile, because the fire has damaged the electrical grid, Maui Electric customers are asked to conserve electricity between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on July 12.

No structures have been destroyed so far, although county officials noted that some farm equipment had burned.

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