Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fire Sale

The south west side of the West Maui Mountains is on fire AGAIN. Every year, sometimes twice the MacGregor Point area of the island goes up in smoke. This is on the leeward or dry side and by the end of summer these pastures are dry as a bone. You can see what the burning vegetation is like in the foreground of the picture below, minus the Kiawe trees because they are not fire tolerant and burned up long ago. It is a surprise that after all these fires there is anything at all left to burn.

Our new windmills are right in the line of fire. I certainly hope in the millions of dollars of planning and environmental impact studies someone mentioned to them that this part of Maui burns up on a regular basis. The windmills have only been spinning for a few weeks now. I wonder if they can shut them off so as not to further fan the flames.

The only road to Lahaina and the Kaanapali area is a two lane twisting highway that goes around this point. It is called the pali because that means cliff. When anything goes wrong along this stretch of road it is closed down and West Maui is stranded. On a good day at the wrong time this former forty five minute drive has turned into a two hour crawl. Last month there were two separate accidents that closed the highway. The road was closed again today. When the crawl becomes a stop the results are not pretty.

At 8:30 am this morning when I first saw this it had already burned a good chunk of the mountainside and was half way up to the top and headed around the point. The fire I now see on my side at 6:30 pm is burning backwards into the prevailing winds. The front of the fire is no longer in view. The beautiful glow you see is the sunset for the most part. Just thought I would mention that since I have been known to embellish things.

For the twenty years I have lived here folks who live in West Maui have been asking for another road. They do not like it when they are cut off from the rest of Maui. The population has doubled. There are more wrecks, more fires and more closures. The highway remains the same and the howls for action from the state have become constant.

I have been reading that the housing bubble may be about to burst. I have a feeling some veins in West Maui may be about to burst. The chance to live in paradise may get more affordable in the near future.

Once the sun has set, a fire on these mountains takes on a new face. This is exactly what lava flowing down from a volcano looks like. It is mesmerizing. It is beautiful and thousands of stranded people stand transfixed. That is a picture I wish I was able to take well enough to show you.

Update 9-3

My camera couldn't take this picture so I borrowed one from the Maui News. You can just make out the windmill towers along the ridgeline.


christin m p in massachusetts said...

As I've said before, the scenery in Maui is strikingly beautiful. Do you think you're going to miss it when you move away?

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Of course, but where I am headed is very beautiful too.

Annie in Austin said...

I suppose even if someone pointed out that the windmills were in a fire zone it might have been ignored anyway. Like Will Rogers, I only know what I read in the newspapers, but my guess is that someone will manage to profit, whether from the building or from the burning.

I've seen something of the place where you are headed, but would also like to one day visit the island where you are now.