Maui County Civil Defense canceled its red flag warning yesterday given the recent rain and cloud cover reducing the risk of brush fires.
The warning came earlier this week in the wake of a brush fire in Kaluakoi that burned 15 to 20 acres last Friday. The roadside fire occurred about one mile off Maunaloa Highway. It did not damage people or property even though it came within a couple of hundred feet of a home. In a strange twist, the fire department’s water tanker sustained damage in a traffic accident while returning from Kaluakoi.
Molokai Fire Inspector Rick Schonely said he will continue to investigate the cause of the fire, which appears suspicious. Five other recent brush fires are also being investigated as possible arson, including two that occurred near the Molokai Landfill and one that happened on the West End.
It was only two weeks ago that two vans were set on fire in Malama Park in Kaunakakai. Tubing used for gas siphoning was found in the vehicles owned by Clare Mawae of Molokai Outdoors. Schoneley declared that, “the preliminary findings are very suspicious, leaning toward signs of arson.”
Civil Defense issued the red flag warning because of the persistent dry conditions and breezy trade winds. As these conditions continue it will pose an increased threat for wildfires especially over leeward areas. Earlier in the week winds were blowing from the east at 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts. Relative humidity was as low as 44 percent.
Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA weather radio broadcasts for any updates.