Flames in the cities of Kihei and Maalaea burned out of control, officials said, briefly diverting air traffic from Kahului Airport, shutting down several roads and causing power outages throughout the island.
Firefighters retreated Thursday night with plans to resume operations Friday.
“We can’t fight the fire tonight,” Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said late Thursday. “We’re not going to send any firefighters into harm’s way.”
Some travelers missed their flights because the roads leading to the airport were shut down. Maui is one of Hawaii’s top tourist destinations.
“Those able to reach the airport safely are being served,” the Department of Transportation tweeted. “Please call your airline before heading to the airport.”
Tourists are being encouraged to stay in their hotels. By late Thursday, some residents were allowed back into their homes.
Maui Electric Co. said power had been restored to some homes in south Maui.
“Currently, the brush fire is not directly affecting any of our generating facilities,” the utility said in a tweet.
The Maui Humane Society moved its animals in crates and kennels to a nearby high school.
Television star Oprah Winfrey allowed firefighters access to her property on the island, one of eight that comprise Hawaii, to help them reach the fire.
“A big mahalo to Oprah for giving Maui County access to your private road for use to assist in the Maui fire,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige tweeted.