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Lahaina fire report
Posted by: gabester
Date: August 15, 2023 09:48PM
So I talked to my friend who was on Maui last weekend. Had dinner in Lahaina on Monday night. Was staying at a resort up the street in Kaanapali Beach.

Tuesday morning he woke, the power was out. Except for there must have been backup power (batteries? generator?) because wifi and internet were working as well as the elevators. He says he learned from hotel staff that one of the people working that morning had already lost their home to the wildfire.

Someone told him that normally when there's fires like this they have helicopters that haul big buckets of water from the ocean... but it was unusually windy because of the hurricane force winds, too windy to fly those helicopters. They hoped the fire would die out. Or that the distant hurricane causing the winds would bring rain to put the fire out. He's complained that it's easy to armchair quarterback this after the fact... Eventually there was no backup power.

He says it took about half an hour for the fire to rip through the town of 12,000, driven by those hurricane force winds. That the black clouds billowing skyward were scary and ominous.

To leave Maui - he's on Kaua’i now - they had to go the back road around the northwest side of the island - the one that's very bumpy and narrow - to the airport.



g=



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2023 06:17AM by gabester.
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Re: Lahaina fire report
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: August 15, 2023 10:41PM
That one's the road to Hana, I don't even remember it's real name. We never made it to Hana when we last visited Maui, too many places to stop at along the way. That's crazy that it was the only way to the airport but makes sense. Everything is crowded by the shore and there are very few (no?) inland roads that you can use to bypass coastal towns.
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Re: Lahaina fire report
Posted by: jdc
Date: August 16, 2023 02:39AM
Quote
Lew Zealand
That one's the road to Hana, I don't even remember it's real name. We never made it to Hana when we last visited Maui, too many places to stop at along the way. That's crazy that it was the only way to the airport but makes sense. Everything is crowded by the shore and there are very few (no?) inland roads that you can use to bypass coastal towns.

Actually, its a different road from Kannapali to the airport. Kahekii hwy.

Hana road doesn't actually connect to that side of the island, its the other.

SIL lives in Maui, but upcountry in makawoa. We have been to lahani, kannapali and wialea many times on vaca, we were actually considering going this weekend earlier in the year.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2023 02:41AM by jdc.
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Re: Lahaina fire report
Posted by: DP
Date: August 16, 2023 09:56AM
As a side note, while watching news I heard many locals pronouncing Lahaina as "ly-na"-two syllables...





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Re: Lahaina fire report
Posted by: Markintosh
Date: August 16, 2023 10:29AM
I been into the Lahaina fire situation way too deep this week, causing a lack of sleep. Contributing factors: We have vacationed in Maui for 30 years and have considered moving there; 20 years of volunteer firefighting experience with several major fires under my belt; I'm also pretty much a weather nut as I do a lot of forecasting for my ski blog.

Things to note in this thread:

• Although the mainstream media has hyped the hurricane connection to this fire, Hurricane Dora had very little to do with the winds that day. The high pressure system north of the islands was the driving force for those winds. That's not as sexy as saying hurricane. The winds were blowing from the east to west. The West Maui mountains rise several thousand feet, and the winds rise up over the mountains, then back down the mountain. That "mountain wave" causes increased windspeed. Additionally, as the winds move downslope, they are compressed as they hit the flat land. That causes heat. So you have very hot and dry fast moving winds. Most estimates are in the 80 mph range.

• This fire has very much to do with the abandonment of pineapple and sugar cane fields on the island. When we first started visiting the island in the 80's, those plantations covered much of the flatter lands. Around Lahaina, it was mostly pineapples. As growers consolidated and were bought out by big corporations, pineapple and sugar production was outsourced to cheaper countries. Those big plantations now are covered by tall non-native grasses, which burn far more easily than irrigated crops. This is a huge problem. Landowners should be forced to either grow crops or return the land to a more native state.

• In California, we mitigate risk by shutting down the power grid during big wind events. In Maui, this is not possible, as much of the water supply on West Maui must be pumped. Shutting off power shuts off the water supply. That is exactly what happened when the wind and fire took out the power...no water. As the area is rebuilt, it's pretty certain that putting power lines underground will be a priority.

• Ultimately the biggest question was the lack of public warnings and considerations of evacuations, including not using the siren system. If you look at YT, there are many video showing how windy it was all day before the fire started. The evacuation should have started that morning. This is not the first big fire maui has seen.

• The road around the north end of Maui is way more intense that the road to Hana. We have done both all of the way around and neither bothered us as we live in mountainous areas with similar roads. We also rent the smallest rental car we can get. That evacuation around the north side would be a huge challenge for city dwelling tourists that rented the largest SUV they could get...at night.

The more you know...



“Live your life, love your life, don’t regret…live, learn and move forward positively.” – CR Johnson
Loving life in Lake Tahoe, CA



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2023 10:32AM by Markintosh.
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Re: Lahaina fire report
Posted by: jdc
Date: August 16, 2023 12:44PM
nice perspective.

We have always preferred the Wialea side vs Lahania... primarily because of the wind.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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