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Oprah Winfrey opens her private Maui road to help with wildland fire

  • JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Oprah Winfrey posed in the press room with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, in Jan. 2018, at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. Winfrey opened her private road on Maui Thursday in response to a raging wildfire that prompted evacuations.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey opened her private road on Maui Thursday in response to a raging wildfire that forced highway closures and thousands to evacuate.

Gov. David Ige tweeted Thursday: “A big mahalo to @Oprah for giving @mauicounty access to your private road for use to assist in the #Mauifire.”

A massive wildfire broke out at approximately 10:40 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Waiko Road and Kuihelani Highway. Winds caused flames to spread quickly, prompting officials to close the highway from Waiko Road to Honoapiilani Highway and later from Maui Lani Parkway to Honoapiilani Highway, county officials said.

The fire caused disruption to electricity, landline and cellphone services. Flights from Kahului Airport were also diverted to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

Maui residents reached out to Winfrey via Twitter asking her to open her private road.

Just before 3:40 p.m. Thursday, resident Jack Moussally tweeted to Winfrey:“@Oprah Maui is on fire consider opening the ranch road so we can get upcountry.”

Winfrey replied to Moussally shortly before 7 p.m.: “Hi there Jack, Access to the road was given to county officials immediately. This was many hours ago. Hoping for the safety of all.”

The Maui Fire Department’s Air 1 and Air 2 helicopters were to resume water drops to the wildfire that has since scorched an estimated 10,000 acres.

Roads to and from Kihei are now open in both directions. The firewas 20 percent contained as of 9:30 a.m. today.

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