Wildfires Ravage Maui: Death Toll Hits 99, Lahaina in Ruins

 Wildfires Ravage Maui: Death Toll Hits 99, Lahaina in Ruins


Hawaii – The aftermath of Maui’s devastating wildfires continues to unfold, with search teams discovering a 99th victim on Monday. With only 25% of Lahaina’s disaster zone inspected so far, many are still unaccounted for.

On August 8, a monstrous wildfire, fueled by winds up to 128 km and reaching staggering temperatures of 538°C, engulfed the iconic resort town of Lahaina. The result? Destruction unseen in over a century – over 2,200 buildings damaged or destroyed, causing an estimated $7.5 billion in losses.

Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier, acknowledging the distress of survivors desperate for news, emphasized that rescuers are advancing swiftly but with a deep respect for the task at hand. He poignantly stated, “It’s not just ash… It’s our loved ones.”

Authorities hope to survey 85%-90% of the disaster-stricken area by the weekend, with a team that’s grown to 20 cadaver dogs from just one.

Officials have warned that victim identification might be heart-wrenching due to the fire’s intensity, which melted even metal structures.

Efforts to allow Lahaina residents to return were paused Monday as some individuals impeded rescue operations, leading to at least one arrest.

However, for the homeless, assistance is on the horizon. Hawaii Governor Josh Green announced the availability of nearly 2,000 housing units, including hotels and private homes.

Meanwhile, the quest to find missing individuals remains ongoing. A crowdsourced list on social media showed approximately 1,130 people still “not located” out of 5,200 names by Monday.

The American Red Cross is heavily involved, receiving 2,500+ calls from individuals searching for their loved ones. On a brighter note, 60 individuals previously deemed missing were located on Sunday in an isolated home.

The fire’s cause is still undetermined, and many survivors reported a lack of timely warning, with some escaping the blaze by jumping into the Pacific Ocean.

Officials are requesting tourists to steer clear of West Maui for now while stressing the economic importance of tourism for other parts of the island. This has sparked a debate among locals about the balance between recovery and tourism revenue. One resident expressed on X (previously Twitter), “We don’t want tourists here… We need time to heal.”

The tragedy’s full scope is yet to be unraveled, but the resilience of the Maui community remains unwavering.

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