Wildfire on Maui kills at least 6, damages over 270 structures as it sweeps through historic town

by Ryan Lee
fokus keyword Wildfire

A devastating wildfire wreaked havoc on Maui, the Hawaiian island, during the dark hours of Wednesday, demolishing much of a historic town and forcing inhabitants to seek refuge in the ocean as the flames rapidly approached. The tragedy claimed at least six lives, leaving dozens injured and causing destruction to 271 buildings.

The fire’s relentless burn continued into Wednesday afternoon, intensified by the forceful winds originating from Hurricane Dora, which was making its way far to the south of the Hawaiian islands. Officials were alarmed that the number of fatalities might increase.

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen expressed profound grief over the loss, saying, “This is a deeply grievous day. The enormity of losing even one life is heartrending. We mourn with the families, and our prayers are with them during this unconsolable period.”


  • Hawaiian wildfires ravage homes and necessitate evacuations, strong winds hindering containment efforts
  • Florida coral reef in peril due to elevated ocean temperatures, rescue teams in frantic action
  • CLIMATE GLIMPSE: Essential information and visuals to understand today

With a decrease in wind speed, aerial assessments of the disaster were possible. U.S. Civil Air Patrol and the Maui Fire Department surveyed the coastal town of Lahaina, revealing the magnitude of the devastation. A spokesperson for Maui County, Mahina Martin, reported widespread destruction, including famous tourist destinations.

Video from the air displayed the remains of dozens of flattened homes and businesses in Lahaina. Tourist spots like Front Street were reduced to smoldering ruins. Scorched boats and the grim sight of charred trees bore witness to the disaster.

“I’ve never seen anything come close to that in my 52 years of flying here,” confessed Richard Olsten, a tour company helicopter pilot, describing the scene as horrifying.

The interim Governor Sylvia Luke characterized the fire’s devastation as annihilating entire communities and urged tourists to steer clear of the area. She warned, “This is not a safe place to be.”

Maui was planning a mass evacuation on Wednesday afternoon, directing people straight to the airport, according to the county. The western part of Maui experienced disruptions to phone service and electricity.

While the precise cause of the blaze remains unclear, it is believed to have been fueled by factors such as strong winds, low humidity, and arid vegetation. Climate change, leading to increased dryness of vegetation, was also considered to be contributing to the likelihood of extreme weather.

The ferocity of the wind-driven fire was evident as it raged through Lahaina’s town center, destroying intersections and wooden structures, some dating back to the 1700s.

Residents who managed to escape the fire described the scene as apocalyptic. Lahaina resident Keʻeaumoku Kapu recounted a narrow escape, describing how quickly the fire reached his building.

Three separate fires were raging across Maui, including Lahaina, south Maui’s Kihei area, and the mountainous Upcountry regions, according to the county’s spokesperson.

A Kula fire destroyed at least two homes on Tuesday, engulfing about 1.7 square miles, as stated by County of Maui Mayor Richard Bissen Jr.

While no injuries or losses were reported from three fires on Hawaii’s Big Island, roof fires were quickly extinguished.

Hurricane Dora, located 500 miles south of the island chain, was partially blamed for the gusts exceeding 60 mph that resulted in power failure and disturbances to firefighting efforts.

Coast Guard rescued 14 individuals, including two children, who had taken to the sea to escape the fire. Mayor Bissen expressed concern that the death toll might increase.

Several patients, some with critical burns, were transferred to various medical facilities on the islands of Oahu and Maui.

An emergency was declared by Acting Governor Luke, activating the Hawaii National Guard for assistance, as shelters were overcrowded and resources strained.

President Joe Biden promised federal support to Hawaii, involving the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines in response and rescue operations, including the use of Black Hawk helicopters to combat the fires.

Though no exact count of evacuees was available, four shelters were housing 2,100 people, and the main airport in Maui sheltered 2,000 travelers affected by flight cancellations. Additionally, officials were readying the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu to accommodate up to 4,000 displaced individuals.

Expressions of sorrow and support came from various corners, including former President Barack Obama, who remarked on the difficult images emerging from the place so dear to many.

Local business owners and residents expressed heartbreak and uncertainty regarding the future as they reflected on what they had lost.

Lahaina, widely known as a tourist attraction, was mourned by locals for its strong Hawaiian community. A resident, Tiare Lawrence, stated with sorrow, “Everyone’s homes. Everyone’s lives have tragically changed in the last 12 hours.”

This report was amended to clarify that Bissen is the mayor of the County of Maui, not Lahaina specifically.

Reporting was contributed by Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu, Weber from Los Angeles, and Beatrice Dupuy in New York for Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Wildfire

What areas of Maui were affected by the wildfire?

The wildfire mainly affected the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, including areas such as Front Street, and also spread to other parts of the island such as the south Maui’s Kihei area and the mountainous inland communities known as Upcountry.

How many people were killed and how many structures were damaged?

At least six people were killed, and 271 structures were damaged or destroyed by the wildfire.

What fueled the wildfire and contributed to its spread?

The fire was fueled by strong winds from Hurricane Dora, along with factors like high winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation. Experts also said that climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather.

What measures are being taken to assist the affected communities?

Local authorities organized mass bus evacuations to the airport, and shelters were opened for displaced people. President Joe Biden ordered federal assets to assist, and the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines were aiding in the response and rescue efforts. The Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu was being prepared to take in up to 4,000 displaced tourists and locals.

How are tourists being affected by the wildfire in Maui?

Tourists were affected by the devastation, especially in the popular area of Front Street in Lahaina. Flights were canceled, and Kahului Airport was sheltering 2,000 travelers. Officials urged travelers to stay away, describing the area as “not a safe place to be.”

What are experts saying about the role of climate change in the wildfire?

Climate change is seen to be playing a role by increasing vegetation dryness due to hotter temperatures. Erica Fleishman, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, stated that higher temperatures cause things to dry out faster, contributing to the wildfire’s spread.

Was anyone rescued from the ocean due to the fire?

Yes, the Coast Guard rescued 14 people, including two children, who had fled into the ocean to escape the fire and smoky conditions.

Have any emergency proclamations been issued in response to the wildfire?

Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, and activated the Hawaii National Guard to assist in the situation.

How has the former President Barack Obama reacted to the situation?

Former President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, expressed his thoughts on social media, stating that he and Michelle were thinking of those who lost loved ones or had their lives upturned, and that the images coming out of Hawaii were tough to see.

You may also like


T0mT0m91 August 10, 2023 - 10:04 am

why’s this keep happening? climate change is real people, wake up!!

Sammy J August 10, 2023 - 4:13 pm

i have no words. the images are just horrifying. stay safe everyone.

Kevin'sMom August 10, 2023 - 7:30 pm

Just heartbreaking. my son’s stationed in Hawaii, praying for his safety and everyone else too.

Wendy1993 August 10, 2023 - 8:13 pm

Climate change is not a joke. Look what it’s done, lives lost, history destroyed… we have to act now!

MariaG August 10, 2023 - 8:53 pm

OMG can’t believe it!! I was in Lahaina just last year, beautiful place. What a tragedy.

Jake Smith August 10, 2023 - 10:18 pm

So sad what’s happning in Hawaii. prayers for the families affected 🙁

ricky_bobby42 August 11, 2023 - 9:05 am

Never thought i’d see this happen in Maui. Used to be paradise. now it’s gone.. just like that.

Linda.K August 11, 2023 - 9:21 am

We have friends there and they lost ther home its so devastating. we need to do something about global warming


Leave a Comment

BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News