Wind-whipped wildfires in Hawaii prompted hundreds of evacuations Wednesday, overloaded hospitals, and sent some residents racing into the water to escape the flames as areas of the famed tourist destination quickly erupted into a roaring inferno.
Maui County said in a statement posted to the county website Wednesday evening that at least 36 people had d!ed in the Lahaina fire in Hawaii. Officials had stated that 271 structures had been damaged or destroyed, and dozens of people had been hurt.
Entire blocks of homes and businesses in Maui’s historic Lahaina Town went up in flames, fanned by wind from a passing hurricane. Furthermore, three wildfires were raging on the Big Island, with two of them at least 60% contained.
Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke said inhabitants had been preparing for Hurricane Dora, which had passed south of the islands, and had no need to be concerned about the rapidly spreading fires.
Here is a tweet about the People Flee For Safety As Hawaii Flames Burn At Least 36 ki!!ed In Maui.
Maui Wildfire update 8/9/2023, 8 A
Kahului Airport remains open. All non-essential travel to Maui is strongly discouraged.
At this time, police are allowing traffic out of Lahaina through the bypass. Those seeking flights off island can reach OGG using the bypass and Kahekili Hwy
— Hawaii DOT (@DOTHawaii) August 9, 2023
“We expect rain, sometimes we expect floods,” she said. “We never anticipated in this date that a hurricane which did not make impact on our islands would cause these type of wildfires.”
President Joe Biden stated in a statement that he has directed “all available Federal assets” to assist in the fight against the flames, including Black Hawk helicopters provided by the Marines.
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The fires are hitting two regions of the island, according to County of Maui spokesman Mahina Martin: Lahaina, a residential and tourist center with a business district in West Maui, and Kula, a residential neighborhood in the inland, mountainous upcountry region.
Aloha kakou to all residents, fire fighters, and those affected by the on-going crises on Maui and Hawai`i Island! Here is the latest information on the active fires and shelter options wherever you may be:https://t.co/5YQirwyBrl pic.twitter.com/FpgZq95PS1
— Hawaii Wildfire Mgmt (@HawaiiWildfire) August 9, 2023
According to officials, 2,000 passengers sought refuge at Maui’s Kahului Airport, and another 4,000 wanted to depart the island. The Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu was preparing to house up to 4,000 individuals who had been displaced by the wildfires.
Locals and visitors hurried to acquire information and contact loved ones in the midst of power outages, downed cellphone and 911 service, and phone lines in various regions of the islands.
Tiare Lawrence, who grew up in Lahaina, was attempting to contact her siblings while sheltering 14 cousins and uncles fleeing the heat, smoke, and flames in Lahaina.
“From what they explained,” she added, “it was apocalyptic.”
Maui county officials said multiple structures have burned and multiple evacuation orders are in place as emergency crews battle brush and structure fires. “It’s been an unprecedented incident striking large areas of our island, and it has been pretty much all hands on deck,” Martin said.