Air quality in Maui has reached levels that pose health risks, especially for people with respiratory conditions living near Kihei. 

As of Friday afternoon, an air monitoring station in Kihei recorded an air quality index of 158, which is considered “extremely high,” according to the Hawaii Department of Health. In nearby Kahului, the air is considered healthy, according to its monitoring.

The Kihei monitoring station is back online after almost a day of inactivity, likely due to a power loss caused by the fire, the health department said.

A brush fire burns near Wailuku Heights on Maui on Thursday.

Yoohyun Jung/Civil Beat

Those who have respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis should stay indoors to protect themselves. The elevated levels of fine particulates can be dangerous and people should take precautions, said Marianne Rossio, chief of the health department’s Clean Air Branch. 

“Particulate levels due to the smoke from brush fires may continue to be elevated in areas near and downwind of the fire and could affect communities in varying degrees,” Rossio said. “We’re advising residents and visitors to stay informed and heed warnings and instructions provided by state and county emergency officials.”

The wind-fueled brush fire began to sweep Maui’s central valley Thursday and has burned more than 9,000 acres of former sugar cane land. Thousands of residents and tourists were ordered to evacuate, but allowed to return to their homes or other accommodations Friday morning. 

According to Maui County officials, the wildfire was 20 percent contained as of noon Friday, and 23 firefighters were working to contain it.

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