Death toll from Maui wildfires rises to 67 as survivors begin returning home to assess damage

by Ethan Kim
fokus keyword Maui wildfires

The number of deaths from the wildfires in Maui escalated to 67 on Friday, with officials reporting an additional 12 lives lost. These fires have transformed large parts of an ancient town into a nightmarish scene filled with ash and debris.

According to an online statement by Maui County authorities, firefighters are still trying to control the fire, which remains not completely contained. Simultaneously, Lahaina’s residents are being permitted to return home for the first time to inspect the destruction.

Journalists from Big Big News were present on the scene and observed almost complete devastation on Front Street, which serves as the center of the Maui community and the island’s economic core. They described scenes with buildings reduced to rubble, roosters wandering among the ashes, and an unsettling display of burned vehicles that failed to escape the blaze.

Descriptions of the destruction include cars set ablaze and crushed by fallen telephone poles, blackened elevator shafts bearing witness to consumed apartment complexes, and recreational items like trampolines and children’s scooters twisted and damaged by the intense heat.

The wildfires have been recognized as the deadliest natural catastrophe in Hawaii for decades, exceeding a 1960 tsunami’s death toll and prompting discussions around the efficacy of the state’s emergency warning system. Many survivors expressed that they received no warning or preparation time, realizing the imminent threat only upon seeing flames or hearing explosions.

Communication systems appeared to have failed, as no sirens were sounded. Alerts were sent via mobile phones and other media, but power and cellular failures possibly restricted their effectiveness.

Governor Josh Green has cautioned that the death count may continue to rise and detailed plans for the residents to return safely to their properties. A curfew has also been implemented to manage the situation.

Driven by dry weather and strong hurricane winds, at least three fires broke out on Maui, causing significant destruction. Images of charred landscapes and ruined infrastructure continue to paint a grim picture of the situation.

The fire is anticipated to rank as the second most expensive disaster in Hawaii’s history, with personal stories of loss emerging as people begin to take stock of the damage. Some individuals are coming to terms with their losses, emphasizing the value of safety over material possessions.

Efforts to search for deceased victims are underway, with dogs being used to locate remains. This wildfire is now the deadliest in the U.S. since California’s 2018 Camp Fire.

Lahaina’s risk for wildfires has been previously documented, and some reports highlight potential challenges in the population’s ability to respond to such events due to language barriers and limited access to vehicles.

The firefighting response may also have been limited by staffing constraints, as the existing crews were responsible for three islands and lacked off-road vehicles for combating brush fires.

Local residents, such as Lana Vierra, are anxious to return and rebuild, despite the painful loss of homes and personal mementos. The emotional toll is evident, but there is also a determination to move forward.

Contributors to the reporting include Big Big News writers from different locations, and the coverage on climate and environmental issues is supported by private foundations, maintaining the AP’s responsibility for all content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Maui wildfires

What is the current death toll from the Maui wildfires?

The death toll from the Maui wildfires has risen to 67 as of the latest update.

How have the Maui wildfires affected the town of Lahaina?

Large parts of Lahaina have been turned into ashen rubble, with nearly every building on Front Street, the town’s central area, reduced to debris.

What criticisms have been made regarding the emergency response to the Maui wildfires?

Many fire survivors stated that they didn’t hear any sirens or receive a warning in time to prepare. There were also issues with the alerts sent to mobile phones, televisions, and radio stations, possibly due to power and cellular outages.

What efforts are being made to control the Maui wildfires?

Firefighters are still battling the blaze, which is not yet fully contained. Residents of Lahaina are beginning to return home to assess the damage, and authorities have set a curfew to manage the situation.

What personal stories have emerged from the Maui wildfires?

People have begun to take stock of the damage, finding family keepsakes among the ashes. Some have emphasized the value of safety over material possessions, expressing relief that they and their family members escaped alive.

How does the Maui wildfire compare to other disasters in U.S. and Hawaii history?

The wildfire is the deadliest natural catastrophe in Hawaii for decades, surpassing the death toll from a 1960 tsunami. It is also the deadliest in the U.S. since California’s 2018 Camp Fire.

What are some of the long-term recovery concerns for Maui after the wildfires?

The Governor has warned that the recovery will be extraordinarily complicated. The wildfire is projected to be the second-costliest disaster in Hawaii history, and there are concerns about the small staff of firefighters, lack of equipment, and the potential language barriers and limited access to vehicles among the population.

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Mike Jenson August 12, 2023 - 11:01 am

I can’t believe the devestation in Maui! Those poor people losing everything. We need to get them help now!!!

Sara T. August 12, 2023 - 11:28 am

i used to visit Lahaina every summer with my family. Such a beautiful place. my heart breaks to see it like this.

Tom R. August 12, 2023 - 1:53 pm

Whats going on with the warning system, How could they not hear any sirens? Safety should be priority No 1!!!

Gary Williams August 12, 2023 - 3:32 pm

It’s a tragedy and we need to act NOW! why arent we doing more about climate change and these extreme weather events? We can’t afford to be passive any longer!

Lucy O'Neil August 12, 2023 - 7:30 pm

Its just sad to read about the loss of lives and homes. But i’m relieved that families are focusing on safety over material things.


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