Disaster strikes Maui, Hawaii as a blaze, now being called the Lahaina fire swept into Lahaina, destroying much of the town. The beach resort city of Lahaina of approximately 13,000 people, now lies destroyed due to the widespread devastation caused by the fire.
By the end of Sunday, 13th August, the death toll had risen to a whopping count of 93, making these fires one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of Hawaii. Of these, only 2 have been identified as of 8/13, said Governor Josh Green in an official statement. Dozens of people have been injured, most of them in critical conditions, while several are still missing. Due to this, a precise death toll may not be known for weeks.
It started off as brush fires on Tuesday, 8th August, which turned deadly by Wednesday, 9th August. The probable cause is being said to be a combination of low humidity, dry weather, and strong winds, coming from the hurricane Dora, a category 4 hurricane in the Pacific Ocean. This unrelenting hurricane has now been upgraded to the status of a typhoon as it crossed the International Date Line, an imaginary line that separates two calendar days and marks the boundary between Central and Western Pacific Ocean. A tropical cyclone in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic, is called a hurricane but a typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean.
The ferocious firestorm painted such a horrible scene that some called it as “total inferno”. The pictures and stories being shared on the internet depict a grim scene of the once vibrant tourist destination of Lahaina, now grey and black in the wake of the fire. This blaze is the state’s deadliest natural disaster since a 1960 tsunami killed 61 people on the Big Island, and the deadliest wildfire since the 2018 camp fire of California, which had taken the life of 85 individuals, and destroyed the town of Paradise.
According to Hawaiian emergency management records, no warning signs were triggered when the blaze erupted. Although alerts and warning signs were sent out to people’s phones and radios, they likely had limited reach due to widespread power and cellular outages. As a result, people were caught off-guard. Some individuals fleeing the horrific scene resorted to jumping into the ocean to save themselves, and they were later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. They saved 17 lives from the water, while 40 survivors were located ashore.
Lahaina, the city worse affected, was levelled, with about 2,207 structures damaged. Most of these structures were residential, leaving about 4,500 people in need of shelter. “This is going to go down in history as one of the worst disasters in Hawaii; we’ve lost so much” said Shane Dudoit, the deputy director of parks and recreation. The Pacific Disaster Center released damage and needs assessment, which states that $5.52 billion capital has been exposed.
President Biden said that not only are their prayers with people of Maui but also every available asset. The White House announced a disaster declaration for the state, clearing the way for federal aid. People are coming forward to donate and help Maui get back on its feet.
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