Editor’s note: Discover Fridays Maui wildfire story here.
The A catastrophic forest fire have been Burning Maui for three days At least 53 people have been killed, authorities said Thursday – and the toll they expect will rise as search teams begin entering neighborhoods and homes that have been gutted.
The devastation is so widespread — and so devastating — that it’s difficult to estimate how many buildings were burned to the ground or damaged, but they estimate that hundreds of structures were affected.
“Old Quarter” LahainaMaui County Mayor Richard D. Bissen Jr. said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“Everything is gone,” he said.
With no electricity or cell service in West Maui, officials don’t know how many people who tried to escape are still missing.
“What we’ve seen is probably the largest natural disaster in the history of the state of Hawai’i,” Governor Josh Green said at a press conference after touring Lahaina on Thursday. “We all have a loved one on Maui that we know has lost a home, lost a friend.”
53 deaths A wildfire that has ravaged Lahaina’s historic districts will become the second deadliest fire in the United States in a century. It will only be a trace California’s Camp Fire, It killed 85 people in 2018.
With thousands of people now homeless, Green has appealed to hotels and residents across the state to open their rooms and homes to those displaced.
“If you have extra space in your home and you have the ability to take someone from West Maui, please do,” the governor said. “Please consider bringing those people into your life.”
Among them was Dustin Kaliopu, whose home in Lahaina was destroyed. “My co-workers, friends, family — we’re all homeless,” Kaliobu said.
Earlier Thursday, the governor told CNN he estimated “over 1,700 buildings” had been destroyed.
And fires continue to burn on the island. Maui County officials assessed The Lahaina fire was 80% contained as of Thursday morning local time. None of the other fires burning on the island are 100% contained, officials said Thursday.
Survivors recall their terrifying escape By car or boat, racing through thick smoke, some ran into the ocean to avoid being burned as the fire spread Tuesday. At least 17 people were rescued by the Coast Guard and 40 from the shore. said In a news release, search and rescue operations are ongoing.
• Loss of billions of dollars: While it’s too early to know the full extent of the destruction, the governor said “it will undoubtedly be in the billions of dollars.”
• Dozens dead: Maui County officials said Thursday that the death toll was 53 said.
• Biden approves disaster declaration: The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden Approved the declaration of disasterFreeing up federal aid to aid recovery in Maui County.
“It will take years to rebuild Lahaina. “When you see the full extent of the devastation in Lahaina, it shocks you,” Green said at a press conference Thursday. “All those buildings, almost, will have to be rebuilt. This will be a new Lahaina.
• Persons not yet accounted for: Three U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy helicopters were deployed in search-and-rescue efforts off the coast of West Maui, and a federal team arrived Wednesday. Assist with search efforts in the Lahaina areaOfficials said.
• Thousands without cell phone service: It may take Days or even weeks To repair cell phone networks on Maui. Officials are using satellite phones to contact providers west of Maui to restore power to the area, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said. said.
• Power outage continues: More than 10,000 homes and businesses on Maui say they were without power Thursday afternoon. PowerOutage.us. Additional crews are being dispatched from Oahu, Hawaii Electric said.
• Lack of adequate long-term accommodation: more than Maui officials said 1,300 people were staying in shelters Wednesday night. While there is enough shelter for emergency care for a few days, “there is not enough shelter for long-term survival,” the governor told CNN.
• Visitors moved: Maui County officials are available emphasized Visitors should leave Lahaina and Maui as soon as possible, assuming seats are available on outbound flights. More than 14,000 people were evacuated from Maui on Wednesday, and officials expect another 14,500 to be moved off the island by Thursday, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.
• Airlines increase capacity by: Alaska, Delta, United and American all brought in larger planes to take more people off the island. Southwest lowered its fares and increased service.
• Hospitals are overcrowded: Hospitals on Maui are overflowing with burn patients and smoke inhalation victims, Luke told CNN Wednesday.
Matthew Thayer/The Maui News/AP
The hall of the historic Viola Church in Lahaina and the nearby Lahaina Hongwanchi Mission were engulfed in flames Tuesday.
Wildfires on Maui — and, to a lesser extent, the Big Island of Hawaii — were fueled by strong winds that passed hundreds of miles south of Hurricane Dora. The fire spread on Tuesday.
A fire broke out in buildings near Dickenson Street in Lahaina on Tuesday.
The infernos jumped over freeways, swept through neighborhoods and destroyed homes and businesses.
One of the Maui fires, the Pulehu Fire burning in an area near Keehei, was 70% contained as of that morning, Maui County officials said. saidMeanwhile another wildfire in the highlands of Maui did not contain the percentage.
“Fire crews are continuing efforts to protect structures and extinguish smoking hot spots,” district officials said.
Check out this interactive content on CNN.com
Hawaii’s drought has worsened over the past week, helping the fires spread US Drought Monitor Published on Thursday.
Check out this interactive content on CNN.com
In the devastated Maui town of Lahaina, Mark Steffl and Michelle Numbers-Steffl have lost their home to wildfires for the second time in five years.
They first saw the flames about a half-mile from their home on Tuesday — before winds quickly intensified — and suddenly the fire was in their yard, Mark Steffl told CNN on Wednesday.
“We lost our home again. Twice in four years,” Mark Steffl said.
The first time their house burned to the ground, it moved quickly The 2018 hurricane caused the fire to spread from Lane. Now, the two-story yellow house they rebuilt is gone.
“Our house caught fire,” he said. “We don’t have Lahaina anymore. It’s gone.”
Mae Wedlin-Lee, 20, of Maui, was at home a block from the heart of Lahaina when she watched flames race toward her community Tuesday.
“It didn’t take long: maybe five, 10 minutes from the time the wind changed to ‘we’ve got to go,'” Wedelin-Lee said.
She jumped in the truck and drove off. All around her was chaos.
“It was just panic. People were crying and begging on the side of the road,” he said Thursday. “People were jumping into each other’s (cars), people were holding bicycles, people were running, people were holding skateboards, people were holding cats under their arms … running fast down the street. ”
“The apocalypse was happening. It was a worst nightmare. Imagine the worst you can imagine, and it was 1,000 times worse.
After the restaurant where Weidelin-Lee worked was destroyed, without a home — and no job — it was hard to think about anything other than making sure loved ones were alive and safe, she said.
“There are still many unaccounted for. So, even thinking about tomorrow is not an issue now. It’s about finding our friends, finding our families, finding our loved ones,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Michele Numbers-Stefl.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”