Hours before devastating fires scorched the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, Kyle Ellison labored to save his rental house in Kula, a rural mountain town 24 miles away, from a different blaze.
As high winds whipped burning trees and grass, Ellison and his landlord struggled with plummeting water pressure. Ellison had to wait for pots to slowly fill in the sink before running them to the fire; his landlord wielded a garden hose with little more than a trickle. Firefighters had to rush away for half- hour stretches to find a working fire hydrant to refill their tanker, and every time they did, the fire gained.
“It’s a very disconcerting feeling when the fire department shows up and they don’t have water,” Ellison said.
The lack of backup power for critical pumps seriously hindered firefighting in Kula, county water director John Stufflebean told The Associated Press. Once the winds knocked out electric