Raging wildfires across the west coast of Maui forced evacuations early Wednesday morning, potentially jeopardizing the island’s ability to host the Maui Invitational college basketball tournament this November.
Gonzaga is one of eight teams scheduled to play games in the prestigious Maui event Nov. 20-22, but destructive wildfires spread across the Lahaina area late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, prompting residents to evacuate homes and take shelter elsewhere on the island. Others fled into the ocean to escape wildfire flames.
The tournament’s host venue, the Lahaina Civic Center, was initially used as an evacuation site, but residents taking shelter at the facility were redirected to local community centers as fires continued to spread through the city.
It’s unclear if the Lahaina Civic Center sustained damage as a result of the fires.
Maui Invitational officials have not made any decisions regarding the status of the upcoming tournament, only posting a short statement to the event’s Twitter page.
“We are actively monitoring the wildfire situation on Maui,” the statement read. “Our main concern right now is the safety and well-being of our Maui ‘Ohana and the first responders that we know are doing everything in their power to keep the island safe. We will share more information as it becomes available.”
Along with the Zags, participating Maui Invitational teams include Kansas, UCLA, Syracuse, Tennessee, Purdue, Marquette and Chaminade. Pairings were released in late July, pitting Gonzaga against Purdue at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 with a potential second-round matchup against Tennessee or Syracuse.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green addressed the ongoing fires on Wednesday, saying although the “heroic efforts” of Maui’s first responders prevented further casualties, “some loss of life is expected.”