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High surf, strong currents keep Maui rescue units busy

High surf kept Maui fire rescue personnel busy Wednesday assisting surfers and body boarders who got into trouble in five separate incidents.

Beginning at 11:56 a.m., while Napili firefighters were conducting ocean training activities at Kapalua Bay, they noticed two snorkelers about 70 yards out trying to swim towards shore but not making any progress against the current.

As firefighters were swimming out to check on them, an ocean activities employee paddled out on a stand-up paddle board and brought a female back to shore. Firefighters assisted the other male snorkeler back to shore. The tourist couple, in their 40’s, were caught in a rip current caused by the rising surf. Although a little exhausted, neither required medical attention.

In Lahaina at 11:58 a.m., firefighters were called to Kahekili Beach Park in Lahaina for two female stand-up paddleboarders waving their paddles in distress. Before fire and ocean safety personnel arrived, a beachgoer helped them to shore. The women were having trouble making it to shore through the large shorebreak caused by the rising surf. They left the area before emergency crews arrived.

Napili firefighters and ocean safety lifeguards at 2:47 p.m. from D.T. Flemings Beach were called to help a female body boarder caught in the rip current at Napili Bay. Ocean safety personnel on rescue watercraft found the female visitor from Seattle, about 200 yards out, and brought her to shore. She too was caught in the northwest swell that rose rapidly since mid-morning. No medical attention was needed.

Ocean safety personnel at D.T. Fleming Beach also assisted a surfer and body boarder to shore because of strong rip currents preventing them from getting back to the beach. Both were West Maui residents and did not need medical attention.

In Wailuku at 5:05 p.m., firefighters responded to the surf spot known as “Big Lefts,” on Linekona Place in Paukukalo. An 11-year-old male surfer was having trouble paddling against the current. A Kahului rescue crew on a rescue watercraft picked up the boy about 150 yards out and brought him to shore. The boy, from Paukukalo, did not need medical attention.

The National Weather Service said a high surf warning remains in effect on Maui until 6 p.m. Surf along north- and west-facing shores of Niihau and Kauai are expected to run 35 to 45 feet this morning, dropping to 25 to 35 feet this afternoon.

Along north-facing shores on Oahu, Molokai and Maui, surf up to 30 to 40 feet is expected this morning, dropping to 20 to 30 feet this afternoon.

Surf running of 20 to 30 feet is expect along west-facing shores of Oahu and Molokai, dropping to 15 to 22 feet this afternoon.

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