MAALAEA, Maui >> About 100 people were evacuated today as a brush fire whipped by winds gusting to 40 mph continued to spread in the Maalaea area.
The evacuees included residents, shoreline campers, people parked at a scenic lookout and employees at First Wind LLC’s Kaheawa wind farm, Maui County spokeswoman Mahina Martin said.
The shopping center at Maalaea was also evacuated, and boat operators at Maalaea Harbor were told to leave. The American Red Cross opened shelters at the War Memorial Gym in Wailuku and the Lahaina Civic Center in West Maui.
The blaze covered an estimated 2,000 acres less than 24 hours after it was reported last night a quarter mile from Honoapiilani Highway. A portion of the highway was closed today as flames overran the roadway.
Five helicopters dropped water on the flames to assist fire crews from Wailuku, Wailea, Kahului and Lahaina. They were to be joined by the fire department’s wildland fire crew.
County officials asked the Hawaii National Guard for provide more air support, Martin said.
“They’re trying to figure out what’s available,” she said.
There were no reports of injuries, and the cause of the fire was unknown.