Maui wildfire kills 67, leaves painful questions in its wake

Maui wildfire kills 67, leaves painful questions in its wake

Hawaiian officials in Maalaea, Hawaii are still investigating the cause of a deadly wildfire that rapidly swept through Lahaina on Maui island, resulting in the deaths of at least 67 people and causing extensive damage to the historic resort town. The death toll is expected to rise as search teams, aided by cadaver dogs, continue to search through the charred remains of the town. This disaster is being described as the worst natural disaster in the history of the state.

Governor Josh Green has warned that the number of fatalities is likely to increase further. He stated that there will undoubtedly be more deaths, but the exact number is still unknown. It remains unclear whether residents received any warning before the fire engulfed their homes. Although the island has emergency sirens to alert residents of natural disasters and other threats, it appears that they did not sound during the fire. Officials have not provided detailed information about the notifications that were sent out, including whether they were sent via text message, email, or phone calls.

Maui County Fire Chief Bradford Ventura explained that the speed of the fire made it nearly impossible for frontline responders to communicate with emergency management officials who would typically issue real-time evacuation orders. He also noted that cellular service was disrupted. Residents in the neighborhood where the fire initially struck were left with little notice and had to evacuate on their own.

County Mayor Richard Bissen acknowledged that he did not know if the sirens went off, but he emphasized that the fire spread incredibly quickly, making the situation extremely challenging. The disaster began when a brush fire was reported in the town of Kula, approximately 35 miles away from Lahaina. Several hours later, power was cut off in Lahaina. The county initially reported that the brush fire in Lahaina had been contained, but the situation worsened later in the day. Evacuation orders were posted on Facebook as the fire spread through the town. Witnesses described having little advance notice and expressed their terror as the fire engulfed Lahaina within minutes. Some individuals were forced to jump into the Pacific Ocean to save themselves.

The Lahaina evacuation was complicated by the town’s coastal location next to hills, leaving residents with limited evacuation routes. Andrew Rumbach, a specialist in climate and communities, described this situation as a nightmare scenario due to the fast-moving fire, dense population, communication difficulties, and limited evacuation options.

Currently, six shelters are operating to accommodate the displaced residents, and officials are working on a plan to house the newly homeless in hotels and tourist rental properties. Lahaina residents were allowed to return to check on their properties, but a curfew was enforced. Power and water were still unavailable in many parts of Maui’s western side. Three Marriott hotels in West Maui were closed due to power outages, and guests were evacuated. Thousands of homes and businesses were without power.

Volunteers formed human chains at Maalaea Harbor to transfer essential supplies onto boats, which would then sail to the fire-affected areas. The choppy waters and damaged docks made this method necessary. The Maui wildfires are part of a global trend of wildfires that have occurred this summer, affecting various regions such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, and western Canada.

The article was reported by Marco Garcia and Mike Blake, with additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Jonathan Allen, Rich McKay, Andrew Hay, Daniel Trotta, and Doyinsola Oladipo. It was written by Joseph Ax and edited by Frank McGurty, Jonathan Oatis, and Sandra Maler. The article adheres to the Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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