Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

August 9 Wildfire Update

For all who have been asking – here is a wildfire update.

Category 4 Hurricane Dora has been passing to the south of Hawaii. It is really quite a distance away and we were told to expect some winds. While it wasn’t very windy here in South Kihei where we live, upcountry Maui (Kula/Makawao area) and Lahaina especially had strong winds which brought down power lines with live wires. From what I have been able to learn, it’s likely those live wires which started brush fires. Maui is currently in a drought situation and everything is very dry.

The Kula fire started Monday early morning and has since spread to 1100 acres. It is rough terrain, thankfully a lot of it is shrub or pasture land, but has taken out some buildings, including a friend of a friend’s home.

Lahaina had a brush fire Monday morning which was 100% contained and then flared up again late afternoon. From what we see on social media it took out a large chunk of Lahaina’s downtown. It is truly shocking. We know people who have lost their businesses and their homes. We feel terribly for them.

What about Kihei?

Funny you should ask. With all the drama in Lahaina, officials aren’t really communicating about Kihei which is very frustrating. No wildfire update for us. There is a fire just east of the new high school (which was open for exactly one day prior to being shut down for the fires). Some neighborhoods in North Kihei were evacuated last including the guests at our Sugar Beach condo. Thankfully they were allowed back home a few hours later and there was no damage.

From what I’ve been able to glean online, the fire is moving away from Kihei. A friend in North Kihei reported seeing helicopters flying over it a few hours ago. We do know the State has activated the National Guard and sent additional firefighters from the other islands. We are thankful.

Should you cancel your stay?

At this time our four condos are fine. Our family is fine, we are very thankful. Should you cancel your stay? If you are arriving in the next few days, I would. We are in the middle of a crisis and who knows what will happen. If your trip is a few weeks or months out, give it a few days. Let’s see where this all shakes out. If you were staying in Lahaina, that’s one thing. But at this time the south side, Kihei/Wailea are fine. Let’s wait and see what happens. Yes, there are hundreds of displaced families. But there are an estimated 8000+ vacation rentals on Maui plus thousands of hotel rooms on island. Unlike the Hawaii Tourism Authority I’m not willing to throw the tourism industry under the bus just yet. Thousands of Maui residents depend on their tourism industry jobs. Let’s wait and see how this all shakes out.

Where to find accurate information?

One thing I have learned after 13 years of living on Maui is that in an emergency, good official information is hard to find. You would think the County would get better at this.

Your best information source is on Facebook/Instagram – check Maui24/7 and MauiNow. Also follow County of Maui on social media. Don’t rely on mainland news coverage, the local coverage is almost always more accurate. HawaiiNewsNow has been full of information on the Lahaina fire, sadly little info on the Kula or Central Valley fires. Local realtor Clint Hanson has been posting drone footage.

My take on all this? Do you remember Dora the Explorer? She was all the rage when our kids were little. I hated Dora the Explorer. Her voice and her enthusiasm grated on my nerves. I blame Dora. Dora the Explorer, Dora the Hurricane…. unbelievable.

How can you help?

There are many places to help and in coming days I’m sure more will crop up. A few suggestions I have and trust. I’ll update as I come across others.

  • Maui Red Cross
  • Maui Foodbank
  • Hope Chapel Maui (church in Kihei)