OLOWALU — An Olowalu brush fire that charred around 760 acres, caused home evacuations, destroyed a church and caused road closures over the weekend is just about burned out.
By late afternoon Sunday, the brush fire in West Maui was considered 95 percent contained as ground crews continued monitoring and securing the fire perimeter while air support made water drops on inaccessible areas, according to the Maui County Fire Department.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire that began at 5:30 p.m. Saturday has not been determined.
Meanwhile, the fire department responded to another fire incident at 9:48 a.m. Sunday at Kula Agriculture Park that temporarily closed Pulehu Road in both directions from Holopuni Road down to just north of Kulakula Road.
At 12:40 p.m., contraflow traffic began on Pulehu Road after the brush fire had grown to 7 acres in size, according to the Maui Police Department Facebook page.
By 4:30 p.m., the fire at the Kula Ag Park was considered 95 percent contained.
High 30 to 40 mph northwest winds fueled the fires with the Olowalu blaze beginning mauka of Olowalu store, according to the county.
Damage to the Olowalu Lanakila Hawaiian Church and two nearby storage units and vehicles were clearly seen from Honoapiilani Highway on Sunday. All structures are considered 100 percent lost, MFD said.
Firefighters patrolled Olowalu Village Road for any possible flare-ups in the smoky brush Sunday afternoon. The surrounding brush and trees were torched.
Police evacuated residents from homes on Luawai Street with about 50 fire department crew on the scene. However, one home on Luawai Street sustained fire damage to an exterior wall, according to a news release from the fire department. Damages are estimated at $30,000.
Maui police reopened Honoapiilani Highway to contraflow traffic at 12:15 a.m. Sunday after closing the highway for several hours Saturday night.
Both Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop and the Olowalu General Store were closed Sunday due to power outages and the nearby brush fire.
“The fire was close on the access road on the very end, so when I was leaving last night, it seemed like it was right there,” said Leoda’s General Manager Rosie Robbins on Sunday afternoon.
Power was restored at Leoda’s around 11:15 a.m., but Robbins said they remained closed and turned a few customers away to allow time to revamp the shop’s network and prepare for Monday service when they reopen.
“Also, a lot of my staff live on the other side, so just for safety of the staff, I don’t want to bring them over something that might reignite, so yeah, just kind of for safety and just let us get ready for tomorrow,” Robbins said. “We’re so grateful that there was no damage.”
Hawaiian Electric crews were responding to West Maui outages due to the high winds after three transmission lines were knocked out.
Between 3:15 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. Saturday, about 12,250 customers in West Maui lost electrical service when high winds caused three transmission lines to go offline. A majority of customers were brought back online around 12:05 a.m. Sunday.
On Sunday, Hawaiian Electric crews continued to restore power to remaining small pockets of customers in Lahaina and Upcountry after various parts of Lanai and Maui — including West Maui and pockets of Olinda, Kula and Haiku — experienced power outages due to the gusty winds and wet weather Saturday, said spokeswoman Shayna Decker on Sunday afternoon.
Around 2:10 p.m. Saturday, about 770 customers on Lanai experienced an outage when a piece of electrical equipment broke off from a power line along Kaumalapau Highway during a period of heavy winds and rain, Decker said. After crews made repairs, all customers were restored around 3:50 p.m. Saturday.
Crews are working to safely make repairs to electrical equipment damaged during Saturday’s high-wind advisory to bring the remaining small pockets of customers back online as quickly as possible, Decker said.
The County of Maui Department of Water Supply on Saturday asked Upcountry and West Maui residents to conserve water for only necessary use for the next 24 to 48 hours because of power outages and the Olowalu brush fire.
The Red Cross respite center at the Lahaina Civic Center has been closed, while the respite center at the Kihei Community Center remains open at 303 E. Lipoa St. in South Maui.
Because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, people seeking respite at the center needed to remain in their vehicles.
The Lahaina Aquatic Center closed Sunday for cleaning of brush fire ash and windblown debris, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The pool will reopen at 9 a.m. today for those with reservations for daily lap swimming.
* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected] Kehau Cerizo and Melissa Tanji contributed to this report.