09 August, 2023

Maui ravaged by wildfires..

Wildfires whipped up by strong winds have raced through parts of Hawai'i on Wednesday causing mass destruction and devastating homes and businesses. 

Lahaina, one of the most historic towns in the State of Hawaii and a top tourist hotspot has been particularly hard hit. Traffic on surrounding roads had been very high as people looked to evacuate the area and escape the ravaging fires. 

In various photos on social media, flames can be seen consuming houses and jumping from building to building as emergency crews battled multiple fires in two main areas. The tourist destination of West Maui and an inland, mountainous region. For a time in West Maui, the emergency 911 service was out of action and local residents were advised to contact the police directly.   

There are reports of people having to evacuate into the ocean, where they were rescued by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard confirmed it had responded to areas where people had fled into the ocean to escape the fire and smoky conditions, including rescuing 12 people from the water off Lahaina.

Earlier, the Lieutenant Governor, Sylvia Luke, the Acting Governor, acting on behalf of @govhawaii, signed an emergency proclamation to activate the National Guard and authorize appropriate emergency actions to respond to the wildfires in Maui and Hawaiสปi Counties.

Part of that proclamation includes the notification that there are several large wildfires which are burning in the counties of Hawaii and Maui, including in the North Kohala, South Kohala, Kula, and Lahaina areas.   These fires have burned hundreds of acres and forced the closure of roads and schools, and evacuations in the Kohala Ranch, Kula, and Lahaina areas.

Very dry conditions and strong and potentially damaging easterly winds caused by the passage of Hurricane Dora to the south of the State are contributing to the wildfire danger. These fires threaten to cause damages, losses, and suffering of such character and magnitude to affect the health, welfare, and living conditions of a substantial number of persons, and to affect the economy of the State.