Due to extremely dry circumstances brought on by a drought and strong winds, the fires spread quickly. Officials declared that a significant portion of the ancient town of Lahaina had been “destroyed,” and that the flames had destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.
Numerous deaths have been reported, and there are still many more persons missing.
At least 99 people have died and many more are still missing as a result of the devastating wildfires that broke out on the Hawaiian island of Maui on August 8. Officials on Maui have repeatedly warned that the death toll is expected to rise as they work to contai the active blazes and assess the damage.
2,000 rooms have been reserved for those who have been affected by the Maui fires, Hawaii Governor Josh Green announced during a news conference on Monday evening. Hundreds of mental health professionals from Hawaii and other states are also contributing, and Hawaii waived its licencing rules to make this possible.
Additionally, 25% of the affected locations have been searched, according to Green. Twenty cadaver dog teams are still searching with their dogs. By the weekend, they intend to have covered 85–90% of the search area. The governor announced on Tuesday that those victims’ families who have been identified will be notified. There have only been three successful IDs using fingerprinting so far.
Maui Police Chief Pelletier said at the news conference that one person had been arrested for trespassing in Lahaina. Pelletier said people need to show reverence for the area. Additionally, he pointed out the area contains toxic chemicals.
Gov. Green said he would try to block out-of-state people from buying any property damaged or destroyed during the state of emergency. He’s contacted the attorney general to place a moratorium on selling damaged or destroyed properties.
A representative from Hawaii Electric said at the news conference that an investigation is underway into what happened. When pressed about why power lines were not de-energized during powerful winds, the rep said that, unlike California, the state does not have a shut-off program, which is “controversial,” not universally accepted and creates a hardship for the vulnerable and people with medical needs. The rep also noted that electricity powers the pumps that provide water to fight the fire.
When asked about reports that there was insufficient water to fight the fires, Gov. Green said the comprehensive investigation is underway. He added there has been a great deal of water conflict on Maui for many years, with limited water for houses and people.