Residents dealing with water issues following wildfires on Maui
MAUI, HI, (KPTV) - When talking about the Maui wildfires, most of the focus is on the devastation in the area of Lahaina. But one other fire on the island continues to burn as well and is affecting how people there live.
The same day the inferno ripped through Lahaina, another fire tore through the town of Kula. No lives were lost, but over a dozen homes burned.
On the slopes of Haleakala - the highest point on Maui - is an area known as Upcountry. There the Kula Fire burns in some hard to reach places, where helicopters haven’t stopped the effort to put it out.
Anthony Jensen lives just below where the fire is. He’s grateful to still have his home, but is mourning his friends who don’t.
“When I wake up, I’m in tears. When I hear about a family throwing their member sin the back of their truck, yeah,” he said.
The fire destroyed at least 19 homes and Maui County issued an unsafe water alert, saying harmful contaminants may now be in the water system because of the fire.
“It just shows you going from day-to-day life and all of a sudden, bam! Everything has just changed,” Scott Burnett said.
Burnett had to evacuate his home. He’s back but now he and his neighbors have to rely on tanks of potable water for drinking, making ice and preparing food.
“We got smoked out of our house and had to clean that up, and just glad we have a house to go back to,” said Burnett.
Jensen says his gratitude for being spared and the heartache of so many in Lahaina pushed him to a grass roots relief effort he calls “Aloha Response Team.” He’s gathering donated supplies to take to neighborhoods where people are still living in the burn zone.
“This is why we’re here. This is just members of the community showing up to help the people that need it, and it’s beautiful to be a part of,” Jensen said.
County officials say hotspots in gulches, along with land divisions and fences, are making this fire difficult to contain.
Copyright 2023 KPTV-KPDX. All rights reserved.