DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
PETER T. YOUNG, CHAIRPERSON
Phone: (808) 587-0401
Fax: (808) 587-0390
For Immediate Release:
Wildfire Contained In Kula Forest Reserve,
KAHULUI -- Fire fighters from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) today are continuing “mop up” as they check for any remaining hot spots in the Upper Waiohuli fire in Kula Forest Reserve, Maui.
Continuing rain has helped to keep the fire 100 percent contained since Monday.
“We are deeply grateful for the assistance of the Maui County Fire Department for their support, the Maui County Civil Defense Agency and Maui County Public Information Office which took the lead in getting the information out to the public and media, and the County of Maui Department of Public Works,” said Peter Young, DLNR chairperson
“These agencies, along with private contractors and neighboring ranchers, together with our Division of Forestry and Wildlife crew and National Park Service personnel, were critical to stemming further spread of this fire under difficult weather conditions and terrain,” Young said.
Estimated costs of the fire fighting are $342,000 at this point.
On Tuesday DLNR began a formal investigation into the cause of this fire. A fire investigation team composed of three DOFAW personnel conducted the investigation and determined, from evidence, that the fire was started by a discarded cigarette, most likely from a hiker or hikers. The cigarette was found on the upper Waiohuli trail about 150 feet from the access road.
Fire starts from a cigarette are very unusual in Hawaii as the right environmental conditions (weather, relative humidity, fuels, etc.) need to be present for it to ignite.
On Monday morning, county and state fire crews were able to contain the fire that had burned 2,291 acres in the Kula Forest reserve over 7 days, fanned by wind and made more difficult due to the steep and heavily forested terrain.
Maui County Fire Department was released on Tuesday, as well as DLNR’s Big Island DOFAW fire crew. DOFAW fire crews from Kauai and Oahu returned to their respective branches yesterday. The fire will continue to be manned by Maui DOFAW fire crew.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 30 fire fighters from DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife were joined by 13 fire fighters from the National Parks Service to search for still smoldering spots within 50 feet from the fire’s perimeter areas. Using hand-held infrared heat detectors, they are able to find ‘hot spots’ and uncover and douse any burning embers.
John Cumming, Maui Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife said, “Because the stability of many of the extremely large trees has been compromised by the fire, partially burned trees with weak bases are toppling over in the high wind.
Kula Forest Reserve will need to remain closed for an as yet undetermined time, while fire monitoring continues and DLNR is able to assess potential for danger from falling trees. Skyline Road, Waipoli Road, Kula State Forest Reserve and all Na Ala Hele trails are closed to all modes of entry and activities due to hazardous conditions. Signs to that effect will be posted at all known entries.
All State Parks activity (lodging, camping, special use) is not available until further notice at Polipoli State Parks. After the fire is considered controlled, staff need to inspect the park facilities, then assess damages and repair needs, and then determine a future date to allow permitted activities.
# # #
For more information, media may contact: