Residents Allowed to Return Home After Maui Fire Burns 10,000 Acres

County of Maui

With fires raging on the island of Maui in Hawaii, Oprah Winfrey did her part to make sure people got evacuated safely.

(Original story) - A brush fire on Maui that was reported at 10:42 a.m. on Thursday quickly grew to 3,000 acres throughout the day.

A plume of smoke spreads across the sky during a wildfire in Kihei. "We're in deep trouble", Victorino said.

"We can't fight the fire tonight", Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said late Thursday. Officials described the burned land as dry brush and fallow former sugar cane property.

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.

Winds of up to 20 miles per hour helped the flames from the fire to spread, according to officials. Two fire department helicopters dropped water on the blaze to try to contain it.

People forced from their homes are being advised to seek shelter at the War Memorial Gymnasium, the Kihei Community Center, or Kamalii Elementary School, with almost 500 people having done so by the early evening.

The cloud of smoke from the blaze was so huge that it could be seen from outer space, video from the National Weather Service in Honolulu shows.

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While thousands were ordered evacuated, it was unclear how many people fled the west Maui coastal communities of Maalaea and Kihei.

County of Maui activated its Emergency Operations Center to respond to the fire Thursday morning.

Smoke from the fire briefly diverted flights from Kahului Airport and closed two major roads, according to Reuters.

The Maui Humane Society evacuated on Thursday as a precautionary measure for the nearby fire.

Oprah has a home in the county, and tweeted a local resident to confirm that she's given officials fighting the fire access to her private road.

As of 1:40 p.m., Maui Veterans Highway remained open while Kuihelani Highway continued to be closed, Perry said. He wrote: "A big mahalo to @Oprah for giving @mauicounty access to your private road for use to assist in the #Mauifire".

So. Maui is on fire.

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

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