A raging blaze led to evacuations of people and animals in parts of Maui as firefighters battled to keep it away from residential areas, Hawaii officials said.
The fire had scorched 3,000 acres in central Maui, leading to evacuations of residents of Kihei and Maalaea as it burned out of control Thursday, CNN affiliate KGMB reported. The Maui Humane Society moved its animals in crates and kennels to a nearby high school.
As darkness set in, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said firefighters would not bring it under control overnight.
“We can’t fight the fire tonight. We’re not going to send any firefighters into harm’s way,” Victorino said Thursday.
County of Maui activated its Emergency Operations Center to respond to the fire Thursday morning. By afternoon, the flames were burning out of control and emergency officials sent a mobile alert warning nearby residents to evacuate.
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. “A big mahalo to Oprah for giving Maui County access to your private road for use to assist in the Maui fire,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige tweeted.
Flights at Kahului Airport were briefly diverted, but operations have returned to normal. The fire affected access to the airport, which was operating on emergency generators. The Hawaii Tourism Authority advised visitors heading to or from the airport to contact their airlines for flight status due to power issues.