Hawaii firefighter injured when swept away in storm drain

Jan 27, 2023, 6:46 PM | Updated: Jan 28, 2023, 4:46 pm

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii firefighter was critically injured when he was swept into a storm drain and carried the length of eight football fields until being dumped on the shoreline, officials said.

The accident occurred as nearly 13 inches (33 centimeters) of rain fell on parts of Maui on Friday, and weather officials warned of “unstable weather” ahead, The Maui News reported.

A crew responded to a flooded home when the firefighter was caught in a 4-foot-wide (1-meter-wide) storm drain, Maui County spokesperson Mahina Martin said. He was carried about 800 yards (731 meters) to where the drain empties into the ocean.

Other firefighters and emergency personnel retrieved him from the shoreline, transporting him to a hospital. He was listed late Friday in critical condition, Martin said.

“We are focused on supporting the firefighter’s family and ask that our community join us in prayers for his recovery,” Martin said.

Martin said no other details were immediately available and the firefighter’s name was not released.

The fire department plans to review the incident, Martin said.

Both the firefighter’s injury and the heavy rains across Maui led the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to urge caution as the unstable weather pattern over Hawaii could bring hazardous weather throughout the weekend.

Nearly 13 inches (33 centimeters) of rain fell in East Maui over a 24-hour period ending Friday afternoon. Other locations on Maui received about 5 inches (13 centimeters) during the same time period. The rains prompted a flood watch on the island through Sunday and closed some public facilities.

Maui County and the American Red Cross opened a shelter Saturday on Molokai after a flash flood warning was issued for that island.

It initially opened for staff members of a canceled festival who were unable to go home because of flooding. The National Weather Service reported that homes were inundated in the Kawela Gulch area of Molokai, Maui County said in a statement. People going to the shelter were advised to bring their own food and water.

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Hawaii firefighter injured when swept away in storm drain