Lahaina brush fire spreads on Maui as Hurricane Lane approaches

LAHAINA, Maui — An overnight brush fire Friday near Maui’s resort area of Lahaina has forced evacuations as Hurricane Lane approaches Hawaii with life-threatening amounts of rain, officials said.

The brush fire, near Lahaina’s Kauaula Valley, is estimated to cover between three and four acres, according to a Maui County emergency alert.

A nearby storm shelter has been moved from Lahaina Intermediate School to the Lahaina Civic Center, the alert said. Authorities have begun evacuating residents in the area, and some roads have closed.

There are no reports of injuries.

A Twitter user named Stephen Lai tweeted a photo of a tower of gray smoke rising into the night sky with the message: “So this is currently happening on our last night in Maui…and no I’m not talking about #HurricaneLane it’s a fire in Lahaina.”

Emergency personnel responded to reports of a brush fire about 1 a.m., officials said.

Cell phone service in the area is sporadic because of the storm. The alert said customers may not be able to make or receive phone calls in the Lahaina area.

The storm’s most powerful winds are expected to whip some islands later Friday.

The storm, which has weakened to a Category 2, unleashed landslides and flooding as its outer rain bands hit parts of Hawaii’s Big Island. More of the same is anticipated on the rest of the islands into the weekend.

Lane’s powerful center “will move over, or dangerously close” to parts of the islands Oahu, Maui, Lanai and Molokai late Friday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane conditions, including winds of at least 74 mph, will start there Friday, the Hurricane Center said. The winds could complicate the firefighting effort, according to CNN meteorologist Judson Jones.