Firefighters battling the ferocious wildfires in Maui have made progress in containing the blazes. These wildfires have claimed the lives of at least 80 people and have devastated entire communities. Search and rescue teams are working tirelessly to recover more bodies, as the death toll is expected to increase.
The exact number of missing persons is still unknown after the wildfires ripped through neighborhoods in western Maui, leaving much of the historic town of Lahaina in ashes. Fueled by powerful winds from Hurricane Dora, the fires have become the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii since the state’s formation in 1959.
As of Friday evening, all three fires were still active, with some improvements in containment. However, the risk of flare-ups remains. Evacuation efforts were underway in Kaanapali after a fire was spotted in the neighborhood located 4 miles north of Lahaina, but it was later contained.
The largest fire in Lahaina is now 85% contained, according to Maui County officials. The Pulehu fire in Kihei is 80% contained, while the fire in the hills of Maui’s central Upcountry is 50% contained.
Meanwhile, search and recovery teams are using cadaver dogs to locate those missing and the possibility of finding more deceased victims is increasing. So far, crews have not searched inside buildings. It is believed that the deaths in Lahaina occurred outdoors as people were trying to escape the flames.
Thousands of people have been displaced by the fires, with many seeking shelter. Communication has been compromised in parts of Maui due to severed lines, and authorities have resorted to updating the public through radio stations and social media. Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez will be leading a review of the officials’ response to the wildfires.
Water in the Upper Kula and Lahaina areas is unsafe to drink, and residents have been advised to use only bottled water. Power restoration efforts are underway, with about 5,000 outages still active as of Friday.
The full extent of the destruction caused by the wildfires is yet to be determined, but it is estimated that the losses are in the billions of dollars.