Another brush fire broke out on Maui on Monday morning.
This time it’s near the Maui Meadows, Wailea area.
The Maui Fire Department says 80 acres have burned so far.
But Maui residents are still on edge after this month’s massive fires which torched 10,000 acres.
Experts say that ever since sugarcane production stopped on Maui in 2016, the risk of wildfires has increased.
“You have this large area of farmland that was recently abandoned and it created this giant fuel hazard,” said UH Manoa Dr. Clay Trauernicht, Wildland Fire Specialist.
Dr. Trauernicht says the lack of water and maintenance has led to an increase of non-native grasses and shrubs which burn quickly
“It’s been building and building,” said Michael Walker, fire protection forester for DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife. “Ever since Alexander and Baldwin stopped producing cane, and all those fallow fields began to convert over to guinea grass, it wasn’t a matter of if, it was just a matter of when for that whole [central Maui] area.”
Dr. Trauernicht says it was the plantation workers who were able to help keep the fires under control before fire crews arrived.
“So when [fire crews] would arrive on the scene, there were people there who know the roads, who could open gates, they had water resources, water tanker trucks available on the sugarcane plantations so firefighters were getting a lot of support and since those operations shutdown, or as they shut down, it places more burden on the firefighters.”
And with drought conditions, hot temperatures, and high wind, most of Maui is under threat.
“The other fire was arson but it doesn’t really matter, that’s not the point, the point is something needs to be done with all this dead fields and yeah we need rain,” said Shelly Detken, Maui Meadows resident.
“Really what the county and state need to be doing is actively managing these fuels especially around roadways and other areas where homes and businesses are in order to prevent accidental ignitions,” said Walker.
Earlier this afternoon MFD said the fire was 80 percent contained.
Fire officials say residents should be prepared at all times and to have a plan and of course prepare your home ahead of time, don’t wait until the fire starts.