Oprah Opens Road During Kihei Fire; Some Maui Residents Still Unsure About Access


People fleeing a 3,000-acre brush fire in Kihei were asking Oprah to open a private road on her land in Maui to help with evacuations. Oprah later shared that access to her private road was given to the county almost immediately, hours earlier. It appears that a number of people didn’t know this was the case.

Jack Moussally wrote on Twiter: “Maui is on fire consider opening the ranch road so we can get upcountry.” She responded: “Hi there Jack, Access to the road was given to county officials immediately. This was many hours ago. Hoping for the safety of all.” 

Many people on social media tweeted that leaving Kihei would be easier if a private road on Oprah’s land was opened, due to other roads heading north being blocked by the fire. The road is referred to as “Oprah’s Road,” Maui Time reported in 2011. It’s 12-feet wide, paved, and “stretches from the water tank at Kealakapu Road near Piilani Highway in Kihei to Keokoa, near Haleakala Highway.”

It’s unclear why some people were still tweeting, seeking access to the road, even after Oprah said that access had already been granted to the county.

Some of the tweets above came after Oprah said she had already given the county access to her private road. It’s unclear if it just took the county awhile to make that road available or exactly what occurred to cause the confusion.

Maui Watch reported that the county didn’t officially announce the road was open. However, some residents told Maui Watch that they were allowed access to the road.

Meanwhile, others on Twitter said the county was using the road but not opening it to the public. This runs counter to what Maui Watch discovered, and Heavy has not been able to confirm these reports.

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One person said the Kihei to Kula bypass on Oprah’s property was only open to residents on one side, and not to everyone who wanted to get to the airport or away from the fire. On Twitter, Adventure_Diary wrote: “not the full story. I was there. Only residents on the other side of that road ‘Kula’ can pass. No one else! It was intense. People wanted to get to the airport or just away from the nearby fire were turned down!”

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But others insisted access was always available.

Governor David Ige tweeted his thanks to Oprah for her generosity in opening the road. He wrote: “A big mahalo to @Oprah for giving @mauicounty access to your private road for use to assist in the #Mauifire

In 2016, a local blog from a resident of Kihei talked about traveling in the Kihei area and Oprah’s land. They noted that there aren’t many connecting highways since the island is small and some main cities only have one way in. The blog noted that Oprah had offered to pay for a connecting road near her property at one point, but the county didn’t take her up on the offer at the time.

In 2012, Variety reported that Oprah was expanding her property in Kula on Maui for a total of about 782 acres.

Oprah did indeed open her private road to help with fire evacuations, and the Governor thanked her for the effort. It’s not clear why some people were still confused about the road access after it was granted. Heavy will update this story when more details are available.

READ NEXT: Kihei, Maui Fire Map, Evacuation & Shelter Updates

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