Devastating Blaze: Hawaiian Resort Town Ravaged, 36 Lives Lost, Hundreds of Structures Destroyed
As relentless gusty winds fueled an enormous wildfire, a Hawaiian resort town faced severe devastation, with hundreds of structures falling victim to the flames.
Maui County officials, in a late Wednesday announcement, confirmed the heart-wrenching loss of 36 lives as a massive wildfire swept mercilessly through a substantial portion of the cherished resort town of Lahaina.
This grim discovery unfolded following the arrival of a federal team on Wednesday, dispatched to lend their expertise to the ongoing search and rescue operations.
The tally of destruction mounted, with 271 structures succumbing to the fire’s fury by Wednesday evening. Lahaina and its environs bore the brunt of “widespread damage,” according to authorities.
Lahaina, home to 12,702 residents as per the U.S. Census Bureau, found itself grappling with a mass evacuation effort on Wednesday, as approximately 11,000 individuals were flown out of harm’s way.
In a statement, Maui County Mayor Richard Missen expressed the collective sorrow, remarking, “Tragedy that hits one of us is felt by all of us. These past few days, the resolve of our families, businesses, and visitors have been tested like never before in our lifetime, with lives lost and properties decimated. We are grieving with each other during this inconsolable time. We are truly grateful for our first responders and emergency personnel whose own families and friends have been affected by the Lahaina and upcountry fires.”
Shelters were swiftly opened in nearby towns to accommodate displaced residents, with Lahaina remaining closed as firefighting efforts persisted to extinguish lingering hotspots.
A planned mass bus evacuation for West Maui residents and visitors is slated to resume on Thursday morning, routing them either to Kahului Airport or designated shelters.
Recognizing the dire need, the Hawaii Community Foundation initiated the Maui Strong Fund to provide support for those impacted by the catastrophic blaze.
Fueled by tempestuous winds coinciding with Hurricane Dora’s passage south of Hawaii, the wildfires wreaked havoc. A wind gust of 67 mph was registered in Maui County early Wednesday by the National Weather Service.
As Thursday approaches, the wind’s fury is expected to wane, offering a respite from the elements.