Maui Fires Devastate Island, Kill 53 and Leave Hundreds Homeless

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Governor Green said that the number of deaths from the devastating fires on Maui will likely surpass 60, and the disaster, which is officially 53 as of Thursday afternoon, would be the deadliest in Hawaii since 1959 when the state became a separate entity.

The death toll continues to rise and coastal communities, including Lahaina’s historic town, have been severely damaged. He referred to the 1960 Big Island tsunami, which killed 61 people. “This time, it’s likely that our deaths will be significantly higher, I’m sorry.”

Green said that “possibly upwards of 1,700 structures” were destroyed by fires which appear to now be mostly under control. Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier said that approximately 1,000 people are still missing.

Some fires still burn in Lahaina and the surrounding area. The governor stated that “Lahaina has burned down, except for a few exceptions”.

Green told reporters at a press conference in the afternoon that the damage is estimated to be billions of dollars, and it will take many years to repair the area. Green described the fire damage as a “profound change in landscape”. He announced that footage of the fires would be released on Thursday.

He appealed to local hotels and other organizations to help meet the unprecedented demand for temporary housing. He stated that the state initially seeks 2,000 rooms to house people who were displaced by the fires.

Green said, “If you are able to accommodate someone from West Maui in your home and have extra space, then please do so.”

Maui County said that the fire in Lahaina, on the west side of the island, had been 80% contained as of Thursday morning. Another one, in Pulehu, in central Maui, was 70% contained. The fire in Upcountry, which is mountainous, has not yet been assessed.

Maui County Fire Chief Brad Ventura stated that none of the fires were “100% contained at this time” and that there are still several smaller fires between the larger fires. The weather is still a factor in “rapid behavior” and the chief warned people to stay away from the area.

Rescue crews looked for survivors in the wake of the destruction left in Maui after the U.S.’s deadliest wildfire in the last five years. The fire injured dozens.

In Lahaina Town, entire blocks of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. A 200-year-old church was also affected. In less than two weeks, neighborhoods dating back to the 1700s were reduced to smoky ruins, with bodies charred inside cars that had been burned out and scorched boats on the harbor.

The Coast Guard saved 14 people, including two young children, who had fled into the water to escape the flames and smoke.

“We’re still in survival mode.” Adam Weintraub is a spokesperson for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. “Search and rescue remain a priority,” he said. Officials will give daily updates to all AM and FM channels at 9 am, noon, and 3 pm Hawaii time.

A U.S. town has not experienced a wildfire as deadly since the Camp Fire of 2018, which claimed at least 85 lives and destroyed the town of Paradise in California. As rescuers reach parts of the island previously inaccessible due to fires or obstructions, it is expected that the Hawaii death toll will rise.

Firefighters work to restore power and suppress the fire

The evacuation efforts were complicated by blackouts of power, lack of service on cell phones, loss of 911, and power lines downed in various parts of the island. According to Poweroutage.us, more than 11,000 customers were still without power on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara said that the Hawaii Army National Guard commander general was working to restore communications, distribute water, and perhaps add law enforcement personnel. He said National Guard helicopters flew for 13 hours, dropping 150,000 gallons of water on the flames.

Officials from the county said that three fires were still burning on Maui at the end of the day on Wednesday. Firefighters are dealing with several flare-ups, and they have requested more personnel from Honolulu.

Mayor Mitch Roth reported that wildfires are still burning in the Big Island but there have been no reports of injuries or homes destroyed.

Maui fires caused destruction on Hawaii’s maps and in images before and after.

“We’re still in survival mode.” Adam Weintraub is a spokesperson for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

A U.S. town has not experienced a wildfire as deadly since the Camp Fire of 2018, which claimed at least 85 lives and destroyed the town of Paradise in California. As rescuers reach parts of the island previously inaccessible due to fires or obstructions, it is expected that the Hawaii death toll will rise.

Mayor Mitch Roth reported that wildfires are still burning in the Big Island but there have been no reports of injuries or homes destroyed.