FAQ: Where Are The Fires In Maui?

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Attorney Jessie Paluch, founder of TruLaw, has over 25 years of experience as a personal injury and mass tort attorney, and previously worked as an international tax attorney at Deloitte. Jessie collaborates with attorneys nationwide — enabling her to share reliable, up-to-date legal information with our readers.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and legal experts at TruLaw and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Jessie Paluch, you can do so here.

TruLaw does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us by using the chat on the bottom of this page. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

Key takeaways:

  • Geographical Spread and Severity: The fires in Maui have predominantly affected the island's western peninsula, specifically in areas like Lahaina, Pulehu, and Upcountry Maui.
  • Extent of Damage: The fires have consumed more than 20,000 acres of land, with Lahaina being the most affected with 2168 acres burned.
  • Legal and Social Impact: Lawsuits have been filed in response to the fires in Maui.

Overview of the Maui Fires

Question: Where are the fires in Maui?

Answer: The fires in Maui have spread across the island’s western peninsula, burning more than 20,000 acres and forcing thousands of residents and visitors to evacuate.

On this page, we’ll provide an update of the Maui wildfires, property damaged in the fires, lawsuits filed in response to the fires in Maui, and much more.

Areas Affected by The Fires in Maui

The severity of the fire damage varies across different regions, with some areas suffering more extensively than others.

Areas like Lahaina, Pulehu, and Upcountry Maui have been particularly hard-hit, leading to the following damage:

  • Lahaina: 2,168 acres
  • Olinda: 1,081 acres
  • Kula Upcountry: 202 acres
  • Pulehu/Kihei: 100 acres

Where are the fires in Maui

The severity of the fire damage varies across different regions, with some areas suffering more extensively than others.

In total, officials estimate 2,000 acres of agricultural land, 1,000 acres of pasture land, and 17,000 acres of brush land were destroyed in the blaze.

Estimates of the total acreage damaged by the fires in Maui:

  • Agricultural Land: Approximately 2,000 acres have been destroyed.
  • Pasture Land: Around 1,000 acres have been consumed by the fires.
  • Brush Land: A staggering 17,000 acres of brush land have been lost.

The impact of the fires reverberated throughout the island, underscoring the resilience of Maui’s residents.

It is crucial for affected individuals to stay updated on the situation and take necessary precautions to safeguard themselves and their property.

Table of Contents

Fires in Maui: Lahaina, Pulehu and Upcounty Maui

The recent fires in Lahaina, Pulehu, and Upcountry Maui have not only caused significant physical damage but have also raised serious concerns about safety, economic stability, and cultural and environmental preservation.

Lahaina: A Cultural Heritage

Lahaina, known for its rich history and cultural significance, is grappling with the devastating effects of the fires.

The damage extends beyond residential areas, affecting historic structures that are integral to the community’s identity.

Updates from the Lahaina wildfire include:

  • Ongoing damage to both residential and historic structures.
  • Increased safety concerns among residents.
  • Investigations into the causes of these fires are in progress.

Given the extent of the damage, legal avenues may be explored to seek compensation for the loss of property and cultural heritage.

The community’s resilience highlights the need for immediate and comprehensive investigations to prevent future incidents.

Pulehu: Agricultural Stability in Jeopardy

Pulehu, primarily an agricultural sector, is facing severe repercussions due to the fires.

The destruction poses a significant threat to Maui’s food security and the economic stability of the region.

Updates from the Pulehu wildfire include:

  • Substantial damages to the agricultural sector.
  • Serious threats to economic stability and food security in Maui.
  • Legal intervention is being considered, where appropriate.

Farmers and agriculturists affected by the fires may have legal recourse to recover losses.

Legal measures, including potential lawsuits against responsible parties, are under consideration.

Upcountry Maui: An Ecological Balance

The fires in Upcountry Maui have disrupted the natural serenity and unique biodiversity of the region.

As a critical ecological hub, the impact of these fires could have long-term adverse effects on Maui’s environmental health.

Updates from the Upcounty Maui wildfires include:

  • Widespread disruption of natural serenity and impact on unique biodiversity.
  • The stability of the ecological balance in Maui is at stake.
  • Intensified preservation efforts are being initiated.

The fires in Lahaina, Pulehu, and Upcountry Maui have far-reaching implications that extend beyond immediate physical damage.

Legal interventions are being considered to address the various concerns raised by these devastating events.

As investigations continue, it is crucial for affected communities to be aware of their legal rights and options for recourse.

Fires in Maui: Lahaina, Pulehu and Upcounty Maui

The Maui Fire Department (MFD) has advised the public that extinguishing the fires in Maui may take an extended period of time given the large burn area and the nature of the Upcounty terrain.

As we stand united with Maui, it’s pertinent to confront and mitigate these challenges to ensure a secure, lush, and vibrant Hawaii for future generations.

Hazardous Materials From The Fires In Maui

Maui County has warned that “many dangers remain,” as burn sites could still be covered with hazardous materials like ash and other debris, such as asbestos, heavy metals, byproducts of plastic combustion and other chemicals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been assigned to survey, remove, and dispose of hazardous material from properties affected by the wildfires.

Hazardous materials removed by the EPA following the fires in Maui may include:

  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Ammunition
  • Lithium-ion batteries,
  • Solar battery storage on homes.

The presence of hazardous materials post-fire is not just a threat to the environment, but also to the health and safety of Maui’s residents.

If not handled correctly, these materials can pose significant health risks.

Environmental Impact of Hazardous Materials

The aftereffects of a wildfire extend far beyond the immediate destruction of property and natural habitats.

The hazardous materials released and left behind in the wake of a fire have profound implications for both the environment and public health.

Residents returning to or near the affected areas are advise to:

  1. Wear Protective Gear: Use masks, gloves, and protective clothing when near or handling debris.
  2. Limit Exposure: Minimize time spent in areas with visible ash or a strong chemical odor.
  3. Stay Updated: Regularly check updates from the Maui Fire Department, Maui County, and the EPA regarding safe areas and cleanup activities.
  4. Seek Medical Attention: If experiencing health symptoms, especially respiratory difficulties, seek medical attention promptly.

The wildfires in Maui and their aftermath underscore the multifaceted challenges that natural disasters can present.

It is crucial for residents and authorities to work together, armed with information and resources, to mitigate these challenges and safeguard the future of Maui and its people.

Potential Lawsuit from Fires in Maui

In the wake of the Maui fires, questions of accountability and responsibility have loomed large.

Several entities have come under scrutiny in potential legal actions aimed at seeking justice for those affected.

Hawaii Electric Industries has found itself at the center of legal attention.

This conglomerate is comprised of:

  • Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO)
  • Maui Electric Company (MECO)
  • Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO)

These entities combine to provide around 95% of the total electricity consumed across the islands.

Allegations of negligence and mismanagement have been leveled against them, with a particular focus on their decision not to de-energize their power lines despite being aware of the impending fire threat.

Fires in Maui: Civil Damages Lawsuit

The County of Maui has initiated legal action against several entities in response to the wildfires.

The lawsuit claims that despite a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning issued on August 7th, the companies failed to power down their electrical equipment.

This alleged oversight led to energized and downed power lines igniting dry fuel like grass and brush, which in turn caused the fires.

The lawsuit also accuses HECO of failing to maintain their system and power grid adequately, leading to systemic failures that ignited three separate fires on August 8th.

The damages encompass a wide range of losses, including but not limited to:

  • Public infrastructure
  • Fire response costs
  • Revenue losses
  • Increased costs
  • Environmental damages
  • Losses of historical or cultural landmarks

Over 3,000 acres were burned, and more than 2,200 structures were destroyed.

The estimated damage is upwards of $5.5 billion.

This lawsuit marks a significant step in potentially holding the responsible parties accountable for the extensive damages caused by the recent fires in Maui.

Potential Causes of the Fires in Maui

The recent fires in Maui have prompted a thorough investigation into their origins.

Various factors are currently under examination to determine the potential causes behind the outbreak.

It’s essential to examine each of these factors to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation:

  1. Utility Grid Faults: One of the likely ignition sources for the Maui fires is utility grid faults. Whisker Labs, a company operating a sensor network on Maui, detected significant utility grid faults hours before the fires started.
  2. Downed Power Line: Another significant incident occurred during a storm, where a power line was downed. Downed power lines, especially during adverse weather conditions, can pose a considerable fire risk.
  3. Failure to Activate All-Hazard Outdoor Siren System: There is a mention of a failure to activate the all-hazard outdoor siren system. Reports indicate that the HI Emergency Management System did not activate these sirens.
  4. Communication Issues: During the fire incident, cell phone alerts and TV and radio alerts were employed to warn residents. However, as the fires spread, there were challenges related to power failures and the loss of cell phone service.
  5. Federal Assistance: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ National Response Team is providing assistance to local authorities. This collaboration aims to investigate and manage the aftermath of the fires.

These potential causes highlight the complexity of the situation in Maui and the need for a thorough investigation to determine the exact sequence of events leading to the fires.

Understanding these factors is essential for preventing similar incidents in the future and improving emergency response protocols.

Overgrown Gully Beneath Power Lines

Investigators are focusing on an overgrown gully beneath Hawaiian Electric Co. power lines as a potential source of the fires in Maui.

The gully was filled with thick grass, shrubs, small trees, and trash, which had turned into tinder-dry fuel due to a severe summer drought.

The lack of maintenance in this high-risk area for wildfires could strengthen claims of negligence against Hawaiian Electric.

The investigation into the Maui fires is revealing a complex interplay of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Negligence on the part of Hawaiian Electric
  • Challenges in emergency response
  • Natural elements such as high winds and drought conditions

As the probe continues, these findings will be crucial in shaping future preventive measures and emergency response protocols.

Understanding these factors and questions is essential for preventing similar incidents in the future and for holding responsible parties accountable.

Factors Contributing to the Fires in Maui

The recent fires in Maui have been a devastating event, causing significant damage to both property and the environment.

This crisis is not the result of a single factor but rather a complex interplay of various elements that have contributed to the rapid spread and intensity of the wildfires.

Hurricane Dora

The impact of Hurricane Dora cannot be overlooked when analyzing the fires in Maui.

Days before the fires began, Hurricane Dora brought heavy rains and strong winds to the island.

While hurricanes typically bring moisture, the erratic weather patterns caused by Hurricane Dora led to:

  • Flash flooding
  • Landslides
  • Soil erosion

These conditions created an unstable environment that was more susceptible to fires, particularly when emergency services were already stretched thin due to the hurricane’s aftermath.

Severe Drought in Maui

The island of Maui has been grappling with severe drought conditions, making the area a tinderbox ripe for ignition.

The lack of moisture in the soil and vegetation has not only increased the risk of fire but has also complicated firefighting efforts.

Water resources are limited, and the drought has led to restrictions on water usage, further hindering attempts to control the fires.

The spread of non-native grasses provided additional fuel for the fires in Maui:

  1. These invasive species grow quickly and burn at a much faster rate than native vegetation
  2. Their presence has made the fires more intense and harder to control
  3. They increase the risk of future fires by creating a more flammable environment.

Furthermore, their proliferation creates a more flammable environment, increasing the risk of future fires and making mitigation efforts even more critical.

The spread of non-native grasses has added another layer of complexity to the fires in Maui.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the areas affected by the fires in Maui?

    The fires in Maui have affected several regions across the island of Hawaii, including Lahaina, Pulehu/Kihei, Upcountry Maui, Makawao, and Olinda.

    Kula Upcountry: 202 Acres

    • This event serves as a reminder of the vulnerability of even the most idyllic landscapes to the threat of wildfires.

    Lahaina: 2,168 Acres

    • The Lahaina area, known for its stunning coastal views and vibrant community, faced a substantial wildfire that spread across a vast expanse of 2,168 acres.

    Makawao: Origin of the Fires in Maui

    • While details about the initial incident are not provided, it underscores the importance of rapid response and prevention measures to contain wildfires.


    • Wildfires in these areas can pose threats to both rural and residential areas, highlighting the need for vigilance and community cooperation in fire-prone regions.

    Olinda: 1,081 Acres

    • Wildfires are a recurring concern in regions like Maui, where dry conditions and natural vegetation can fuel their rapid spread.

    Prompt response, coordinated efforts, and public awareness are essential to mitigating their impact and ensuring the safety of residents, local wildlife, and the preservation of these beautiful landscapes.

  • Is it safe to travel to Maui right now?

    West Maui is currently closed for tourists and non-essential travel until October 8th, 2023.

    This closure is particularly significant because it includes popular tourist destinations such as Lahaina, Napili, Kapalua, Honokowai, and Kahana.

    The state of Hawaii and local authorities have advised against travel to these areas during this period.

    Supporting Local Through The Fires in Maui

    Tourism is a significant part of Hawaii’s economy, and your visit will undoubtedly support local businesses and workers.

    However, it is crucial to balance this with a respect for local guidelines and the well-being of the community

  • What started the fires in Lahaina?

    The fire started on the morning of August 8th, 2023, in the area of the Lahaina Civic Center. The fire spread quickly due to strong winds and dry conditions.

    The fire burned more than 1,500 acres and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

    The fire displaced more than 7,400 people.

    The majority of those displaced were residents of the Lahaina Civic Center, which was used as an evacuation center.

  • Are There Any Relief Efforts in Place for the Affected Areas?

    Numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations are actively involved in relief and recovery efforts.

    These include the provision of financial aid to affected families, temporary housing solutions, and medical assistance.

    Food and water distribution centers have been set up, and psychological support services are also being offered to help residents cope with the trauma.

  • What is the air quality after the Fires in Maui?

    The State Department of Health (DOH) has released reassuring findings from preliminary air sampling and monitoring activities conducted in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui.

    According to the data, there is no evidence of poor air quality or hazardous levels of contaminants in the air at the time the samples were collected.

    Collaboration with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

    The DOH has been working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to analyze preliminary, unvalidated data.

    This collaboration aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the air quality in the affected regions.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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