By Cailey Rizzo
October 23, 2019
Courtesy of Hawaii Department of Transportation

A fire in Hawaii has burned about 1,000 acres of land in Maui leading to the evacuation of Kapalua Airport and nearby homes.

"I want to strongly urge our residents and visitors to avoid the Kapalua area as our first responders fight this fire," Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said in a statement on Tuesday. "Please keep the families affected by these fires and our public safety personnel in your thoughts and prayers."

The brush fire broke out at approximately 1:30 p.m. near the airport and was spread due to strong trade winds, according to an initial statement from the mayor. The fire was only about four acres in size when it was first reported Tuesday afternoon but swiftly spread and lead to several roads were closures due to lack fo visibility. 

It was about half-contained as of Tuesday night, an announcement on the county's Facebook page read, that also noted that some roads were cleared for residents to return to their homes. 

“I want to extend another heartfelt mahalo to our first responders and American Red Cross for their tireless work today,” Victorino said. “I continue to applaud our public and private partners for coming together to help our community.”

As first responders, including about 40 fire personnel, three air units and several tankers and dozers, work to combat the fire, an emergency shelter was opened at a county civic center for those who were evacuated from their homes. Helicopters were picking up water, including from the ocean and swimming pools, and dumping it on the fire to put it out.

“Air operations will recommence at first light Wednesday morning,” county officials said.

“You can feel it everywhere,” a local resident told KHON News. “It’s really hot and a lot of the – back then, they used to grow pineapple here so a lot of the black plastic from the pineapple is flying in the air.”

Kapalua Airport is scheduled to reopen at 6 a.m. local time, according to a tweet shared by the Department of Transportation. 

"Electricity and telephone service have been restored," they added. "Passengers should confirm flight details with their airline prior to traveling to the airport.

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