Firefighters extinguish small Maui wildfire that broke out during wind warning

HONOLULU (AP) — Firefighters fully contained and extinguished a small wildfire on Maui that broke out Tuesday during a warning that gusty winds and low humidity posed a risk that fires could spread rapidly in the western parts of each Hawaiian island.

Firefighters were able to quickly contain the fire in the south Maui community of Kihei, said Darryl Oliveira, interim administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency. It took less than an hour to extinguish the fire, which burned about an acre (less than half a hectare) of brush, the Maui Fire Department said.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for leeward sides of the islands — the sides normally sheltered from wind — through Tuesday evening, warning of winds of 20-30 mph (32-48 kph) and winds with gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph).

“We’re going to act aggressively with any fire during a Red Flag Warning,” Oliveira said.

A deadly blaze tore through the coastal Maui town of Lahaina during a similar warning in August.

“Although an area of showers is moving over the islands this morning, it has not brought significant rainfall to leeward areas,” the latest weather service warning said. “Additionally, a drier air mass will move over the islands by this afternoon, bringing an increased risk for fire danger due to strong and gusty trade winds.”

Oliveira asked that residents refrain from any outdoor burning such as barbecues during the warning.

The Kihei fire prompted officials to ask residents in nearby apartments and an inn to seek refuge from the smoke at a community center. The fire also briefly closed a road, officials said.

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