A wet 2018–2019 winter caused extra plant growth on Maui, and thus extra fuel, and was followed by drought and record-breaking heat in summer 2019. That set up conditions for an intense fire season. Firefighters reported the unusual weather conditions that made the fires worse: above normal temperatures and below normal humidity.
In summer 2019, at least 19,300 acres burned across Maui, nearly all of it in the former cane fields. The dry grasses that largely replaced the cane fields are especially vulnerable to fire. Notice that the fire scar visible in the July 27, 2019, image didn’t last long, evidence that, unlike a forest fire burn scar, nonnative grass recovers rapidly and outcompetes native grasses after a fire.