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Officials warn fires spread quickly at higher elevations after a tour van catches fire on Maunakea

maunakea van fire.jpg
UH News
A tour van halfway up Maunakea experiences malfunction and catches fire. Fire spreads quickly in higher elevation.

A commercial tour van caught on fire halfway up Maunakea last week on Nov. 9.

The van malfunctioned and began smoking before combusting. The exact cause of the malfunction is unknown.

No one died or sustained injury from the fire.

Maunakea rangers arrived five minutes after the report, secured the scene and drove the passengers of the van down the mountain to the Halepōhaku mid-level facility. The van was exploding by the time rangers arrived at the scene.

Staff from the Pōhakuloa Training Area Fire extinguished the flames 30 minutes after the first report.

Nahua Guilloz, director at the Center of Maunakea Stewardship, oversees the rangers.

She said the tour guide attempted to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher equipped in the van — without success. He evacuated the passengers out of the van when he smelled the smoke.

van aftermath.jpg
UH News

Although the van burned to a crisp, none of the surrounding area was damaged.

The stewardship warns visitors to be cautious of fires at Maunakea as higher elevation causes fires to spread quickly. Emergency fire services can sometimes take two hours to get to the summit area.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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