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Wednesday,  April 17, 2024 6:22 PM 

Hawaii fires: evacuations in Maui & Hawaii Island, travel warnings and Q&A

  • Other
  •   08-10-2023  7:42 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Hawaii fires: evacuations in Maui & Hawaii Island, travel warnings and Q&A
Lahaina, Maui on Tuesday (Aug. 8). (Alan Dickar)
Pax Global Media

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) is advising against non-essential travel in Maui and parts of Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, as wildfires fanned by Hurricane Dora continue to burn structures and prompt evacuations.

“Wildfires are continuing to burn in multiple areas of Maui and within the Mauna Kea Resort area on Hawaiʻi Island,” the tourism authority wrote in a statement on Wednesday (Aug. 9). “These fires have resulted in the evacuations of thousands of residents and visitors, and multiple closures of major roadways.”

The wildfires got so bad in Maui on Wednesday that Hawaiians were jumping into the ocean to escape the flames, CNN reported, while the disaster also has wiped out power to about 14,000 homes and businesses in Maui, according to PowerOutage.us.

Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation on Wednesday on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, who is travelling, and activated the Hawaii National Guard.

The proclamation, which discourages travel, will allow the state to “prioritize our scarce resources for Maui residents who desperately need assistance," Luke said, as reported by NBC News.

“Non-essential travel strongly discouraged”

Visitors who are on non-essential travel are being asked to leave Maui, and non-essential travel to Maui is "strongly discouraged at this time,” the HTA said. 

“In the days and weeks ahead, our collective resources and attention must be focused on the recovery of residents and communities that were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses,” said the tourism authority, adding that it will provide updates as it remains in communication with state and county emergency management officials and tourism partners. 

Visitors who have travel plans to West Maui in the coming weeks “are encouraged to consider rescheduling their travel plans for a later time,” the HTA said. 

A NASA FIRMS map shows wildfires burning in the Hawaiian islands on Wednesday. (NASA FIRMS.MODAPS)

Meanwhile, visitors with travel plans to stay in other parts of Maui and the Mauna Kea Resort area of Hawaiʻi Island in the coming weeks are encouraged to contact their hotels for updated information and how their travel plans may be affected, the tourism authority said.

Travel to Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and other parts of Hawaiʻi Island are not affected at this time.

Kahului Airport on Maui remained open as Wednesday, but residents and visitors with travel bookings are encouraged to check with their airline for any flight changes or cancellations, or for assistance with rebooking.

The HTA said it will be sharing updates with its travel partners – airlines, accommodations, ground transportation companies, activity providers, travel agents, and wholesalers, as well as to media – to ensure the public is kept informed about travel to Maui and Hawai‘i Island.

In partnership with the Red Cross, HTA is opening an assistance centre at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on Oʻahu for people evacuated from Maui who are unable to return home at this time.

Support will be provided at the assistance cente to help visitors book accommodations or flights, the HTA said. 

Reports say strong winds from passing Hurricane Dora, a Category 4 storm, may have helped fuel wildfires in Maui, a popular tourism destination that's known for its beaches and sacred ʻĪao Valley. It is the second-largest Hawaiian island.

Weather forecasters on Monday warned of possible fires due to the high winds. 

As of Thursday morning, at least 36 people had died in fires in Maui, according to one report, with many more injured, although the exact number is not known. 

Maui County officials are saying the strong winds, challenging terrain, dropping humidity and the location of the fire conditions make it difficult to predict the fire’s path and speed.


Wildfire Q&A

In the meantime, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has issued the following Q&A: 

Q: Which of the Hawaiian Islands are affected by the wildfires?

A: Multiple wildfires are affecting areas on Maui (Lahaina, Kihei, and Upcountry Maui), and Hawaiʻi Island (Mauna Kea Resort area). These fires have resulted in the evacuation of thousands of residents and visitors, and multiple road closures. The islands of Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Oʻahu remain unaffected.

Q: If I have a scheduled trip to Maui in the next few weeks, should I postpone my vacation?

A: Non-essential travel to Maui is strongly discouraged at this time. Visitors currently on Maui for non-essential travel reasons are being asked to leave the island as rescue and recovery efforts continue.

Airlines are being very supportive during this emergency crisis and providing additional flights to help visitors depart from Maui. Airlines are also adjusting their travel schedules to support those visitors who had planned to arrive this week.

Q: If I have a scheduled trip to the island of Hawaiʻi in the next few weeks, should I postpone my vacation?

A: Currently, travel is still welcomed to the island of Hawaiʻi. The wildfire is currently taking place in the northwest part of the Hawaii Island between Hapuna and Kawaihae. Visitors are encouraged to contact their hotel accommodations provider and airlines for updates that could affect their stay on island.

Q: If I’m on Maui, should I head to the airport without a confirmed flight?

A: While Kahului Airport remains open at this time, it is strongly suggested that travelers check with their airline for any flight changes or cancellations, or for assistance with rebooking.

Q: Where are the wildfires located specifically on Maui?

A: There are multiple wildfires burning on Maui in Lahaina, Kīhei and Upcountry Maui. Residents and visitors are being evacuated to safety, especially in the Lahaina area, where the wildfires are widespread.

All streets/roads heading into Lahaina are compromised and are closed. At this time, police are allowing traffic out of Lahaina through the bypass. Those seeking flights off island can reach Kahului Airport using the bypass and Kahekili Highway.

Q: Where are the wildfires located specifically on the island of Hawaiʻi?

A: Hawaiʻi County officials confirm that multiple brushfires are continuing to burn along the Northwestern Kohala coastline and the southern portion of Kohala Ranch. Hawaiʻi Fire Department crews are working to contain the fires. Evacuations may be necessary, and individuals in and around the area should remain on high alert.

For fire and road closure map, updates, and shelter locations, the public is encouraged to visit the County of Hawaiʻi’s Hazard Map here. For more information, click here

Q: If I am on Maui and in need of medical assistance, who can I contact?

A: Text 9-1-1 if you need medical assistance.

Q: I can’t get in touch with my family members who are vacationing on Maui. Who can I contact to obtain more information?

A: For family reunification, please contact 1-800-RED-CROSS. Also, visit here for the latest general information.

Q: I have flown to Oʻahu from Maui and cannot secure lodging. Where can I go?

A: The Hawaiʻi Convention Center’s Assistance Center is welcoming all displaced Maui visitors and residents who are seeking refuge. Staff will be on property to provide support and help those impacted with their travel needs. The Center will also provide food, water, medical support services, and shelter as needed.

Address: 1801 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Q: How do I get to the Hawaiʻi Convention Center?

A: The City and County of Honolulu buses are being deployed to transport evacuees from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) to the Hawaiʻi Convention Centre. You may also use all other forms of public transportation – taxi, rideshare, etc. – to get to the Centre. For more information, visit ready.hawaii.gov or call 808-733-4300.

Q: If I am traveling with animals, will I be turned away from the Hawaiʻi Convention Center?

A: The Hawai‘i Convention Centre welcomes families and individuals traveling with pets and will have a designated area to support their needs. Anyone bringing pets to the assistance cente will be required to keep their pet(s) on a leash or in a kennel/carrier.

Q: Where can people find the latest information and updates on the situation?

A: Official channels are the best sources for the latest updates, including the following:


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