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Hawaii officials prepare for thousands of people displaced by fires. Follow along for live updates

by Sophia Chen
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Wildfires

Stay tuned for live updates about the wildfires that are quickly spreading across Maui in Hawaii, causing destruction in the historic island town and leading some people to escape to the relative safety of the ocean. Here, the Coast Guard has managed to rescue several people. Evacuations were forced in various places, including the well-liked tourist location of Lahaina Town. According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Dora, safely passing to the south of the island chain, is contributing to strong winds that are fanning the flames, cutting off power, and grounding firefighting helicopters.

THOUSANDS DISPLACED BY FIRES, OFFICIALS PREPARE

Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu is being prepared to take in as many as 4,000 people displaced by the wildfires affecting parts of Maui. James Tokioka, who is at the helm of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, stated that the center is intended to help not only tourists but also local residents.

He noted the catastrophic losses suffered by local people, including their homes and animals.

The main Maui airport, Kahului Airport, is temporarily housing 2,000 travelers affected by the situation, with plans to transport them to the convention center. The local mayor has warned that rescue efforts are ongoing and that the death toll could rise; so far, six fatalities have been confirmed.

During these trying times, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen expressed his condolences, acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering prayers to the grieving families.

Lahaina Town was severely affected, with some residents even fleeing into the ocean to avoid the flames. The Coast Guard reported rescuing 14 individuals, including two young children.

The situation has been exacerbated by high winds linked to Hurricane Dora, which was passing south of the island chain. Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke lamented the unexpected impact of the hurricane, which led to the wildfires devastating entire communities.

SIX KILLED IN MAUI WILDFIRES, MAYOR REPORTS

Mayor Bissen confirmed the death of at least six people in the wildfires affecting parts of Maui, although specific details were not provided. Three separate wildfires are raging on the island, including one that caused extensive damage to the historic Lahaina town. Evacuations were ordered in 13 areas, and more than 2,100 people sought shelter.

Resources are strained and shelters are at capacity, according to Lt. Gov. Luke. Power lines have been downed, leaving many areas without electricity. Officials are still working to gain control over the Lahaina fire and to determine its cause.

SATELLITE IMAGERY REVEALS EXTENT OF DAMAGE

Little official information about the damage has been provided, but satellite imagery appears to show flames throughout Lahaina. Residents and business owners have suffered heavy losses. One gallery owner watched his livelihood consumed by the flames, while others are determined to rebuild their destroyed community.

HAWAII GOVERNOR TO RETURN EARLY, PREPARES FOR FEDERAL AID REQUEST

Governor Green is planning an immediate return to Hawaii and is preparing to request federal emergency assistance. Hundreds of families have been affected, and significant parts of Lahaina have been demolished.

COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES AMIDST DISASTER

With power and communication outages, friends and family members are struggling to connect with loved ones. Social media is serving as a desperate means of communication for some.

BURN VICTIMS TREATED IN HONOLULU

Several burn victims from Maui are being treated at Straub Medical Center in Honolulu, which has the only specialized burn unit in Hawaii.

WEATHER UPDATE: HIGH WINDS SLOWING, RAIN UNLIKELY

Though the high winds that fanned the fires are slowing, meteorologists warn that rain is unlikely to aid in firefighting efforts. Drought conditions persist in parts of the affected areas.

FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS

Approximately 2,000 travelers, either stranded by canceled flights or newly arrived, found temporary shelter at Kahului Airport. Officials have advised against non-essential travel to Maui, and airlines are accommodating rescheduling for upcoming travel.

Contributors to this story include journalists Mark Thiessen from Anchorage, Alaska; Christopher Weber from Los Angeles; Audrey McAvoy, Clair Rush, and Jennifer Kelleher from Honolulu; and Caleb Jones from Concord, Massachusetts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wildfires

What is the current situation in Maui, Hawaii?

Wildfires are rapidly spreading across Maui, causing destruction in historic towns and forcing evacuations. The fires have been intensified by hurricane-influenced winds.

How many people have been displaced by the fires?

Officials are preparing to accommodate up to 4,000 people displaced by the wildfires in the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

What caused the wildfires to spread so quickly?

Hurricane Dora, though passing at a distance, contributed to strong winds that fueled the flames and led to power outages.

How many casualties have been reported so far?

At least six people have been confirmed dead due to the wildfires, with ongoing search and rescue efforts.

Is there any aid coming for the affected areas?

Governor Green is returning early to Hawaii and plans to request federal emergency assistance to aid the affected communities.

How are communication and rescue efforts being hampered?

Power and communication outages are making it difficult for people to connect with their loved ones, and social media is serving as a limited means of communication.

Are there any weather updates affecting the situation?

While high winds are slowing, rain is unlikely to assist firefighting efforts, as drought conditions persist in parts of the affected areas.

How is the local airport affected?

Kahului Airport is sheltering around 2,000 travelers affected by canceled flights and disruptions in travel plans.

How are residents reacting to the disaster?

Some residents are posting messages on social media, looking for updates about their loved ones and sharing their experiences during this challenging time.

What is the extent of damage to historic towns like Lahaina?

Satellite imagery indicates widespread flames throughout Lahaina, causing significant loss to homes, businesses, and memories.

How are burn victims being treated?

Straub Medical Center in Honolulu is treating burn victims from Maui, as it has the only specialized burn unit in Hawaii.

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