(NEW YORK) — Dangerous wildfires are spreading rapidly on Maui due to very dry conditions stemming from a drought combined with powerful trade winds being squeezed across Hawaii.
At least 55 people have died from the wildfires on Maui and much of the historic town of Lahaina has been “destroyed,” according to officials. A state of emergency has been declared for the whole island, while all nonessential travel to the popular vacation destination is being discouraged, officials said.
The Big Island of Hawaii has also been affected by wildfires.
The winds are being caused by a strong high pressure system to the north and a strong low pressure system — Hurricane Dora — well to the south.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Aug 13, 4:50 AM EDT
Death toll climbs to 93, officials say
The death toll from the fires in Maui has increased to at least 93 people, county officials said late Saturday.
-ABC News’ Victoria Arancio
Aug 13, 3:20 AM EDT
2 bodies identified with 3% of destroyed area searched
Two of the 89 bodies recovered from the burned-out area near Lahaina have been identified using DNA, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said.
Search crews were using dogs on Saturday to look for remains in the wreckage, he said at an evening press conference in Kahului.
Only 3% of the destroyed area had so far been covered, he said. Twelve additional dogs were on the way to aid in the search.
He described the blaze as “a fire that melted metal,” saying it had been severe enough that each recovered body will have to be identified using DNA.
“Every one of these 89 are John and Jane Does,” he said.
He asked locals to get DNA tests at a nearby facility as a way to speed up the identification process.
“We need to identify your loved ones,” the chief said.
Aug 12, 10:55 PM EDT
Death toll rises to 89, public told to ‘brace’ for more: Governor
At least 89 people have died in the Maui fires, Gov. Josh Green said on Saturday during a live press conference.
“It’s going to continue to rise. We want to brace people for that,” Green continued.
With Maui’s wildfire death toll surpassing California’s 2018 Camp Fire, it’s now the deadliest U.S. wildfire in modern history.
Aug 12, 10:13 AM EDT
2,207 structures damaged or destroyed in Lahaina fire, with 2,170 acres burned: Officials
According to the Pacific Disaster Center, an estimated total of 2,719 structures were exposed to the Lahaina fire; 2,207 structures were damaged or destroyed; and 2,170 acres burned.
Of the buildings exposed to the fire, 86% were classified as residential.
-ABC News’ Flor Tolentino
Aug 12, 3:51 AM EDT
Death toll climbs to 80 in Maui wildfires
At least 80 people have died in Maui as wildfires continue to flare up, officials said in an update.
Firefighters were working to contain three blazes in Lahaina, Upcountry Maui and near Pulehu and Kihei, official said at about 9 p.m. local time. A fire reported near Kaanapali was 100% contained.
Restrictions on vehicle traffic were in place throughout West Maui, but the road leading out of Lahaina was open, county officials said.
“The burned historic Lahaina town area remains barricaded, with people warned to stay out of the area due to hazards including toxic particles from smoldering areas,” the update said said. “Wearing a mask and gloves is advised.”
About 1,400 people were at emergency evacuation shelters, county officials said.
Aug 12, 3:48 AM EDT
Fire near Kaanapali 80% controlled, evacuations stopped
A fire near Maui’s Kaanapali area is now 80% controlled and evacuations have been stopped, the Maui Police Department said in an update.
-ABC News Flor Tolentino
Aug 12, 2:44 AM EDT
Evacuation underway in Kaanapali
Residents and tourists in Kaanapali were being evacuated Friday evening as fires continued in West Maui, law enforcement officials said.
“As of this posting, there is a fire in West Maui, residents in the Kaanapali are currently being evacuated,” the Maui Police Department said in a statement posted to social media.
Kaanapali, another area popular with tourists, is on the coast a few miles north of Lahaina.
-ABC News’ Amanda Morris
Aug 11, 11:40 PM EDT
Many cultural landmarks cherished by the people of the island have been damaged
One region particularly ravaged by the wildfires is the historic town of Lahaina, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1962.
It was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820 to 1845 before Honolulu became the capital and before the kingdom was overthrown and Hawaii was annexed by the United States, according to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.
This includes the historic Waiola Church, the first Christian church on Maui established in 1823, which can be seen in photos engulfed in the blaze.
Buried here are several Hawaiian monarchs, including “Queen Keopuolani, the highest royalty by virtue of bloodlines in all Hawaii,” the last king of Kauai King Kaumuali’i, High Chief Ulumaheihei Hoapili and more.
A more than 60-foot-tall, 150-year-old Indian banyan tree that become a beloved landmark in the city of Lahaina was also damaged in the blaze, pictures show.
The historic tree covers one-quarter of a mile and shades nearly two-thirds of an acre of land.
Other historic homes, museums, and cultural centers were caught in the blaze. Learn more here.
-ABC News’ Kiara Alfonseca
Aug 11, 7:28 PM EDT
Death toll now 67, marking deadliest natural disaster since Hawaii’s statehood
The death toll due to the Maui fires has increased to 67, officials said.
Twelve additional fatalities have been confirmed as of 1 p.m. local time Friday, officials said, bringing the death toll to 67.
That officially makes this the largest death toll from a natural disaster since Hawaii’s statehood.
Previously, the deadliest natural disaster in the state occurred in 1960, when a tsunami killed 61 people.
The Lahaina fire is not yet contained, officials said.
Aug 11, 6:46 PM EDT
Maui fires declared a public health emergency
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency for Hawaii due to the wildfires.
The declaration “gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” the agency said.
“We will do all we can to assist Hawaii officials with responding to the health impacts of the wildfires,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “We are working closely with state and local health authorities, as well as our partners across the federal government, and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support.”
Aug 11, 6:45 PM EDT
Doctor in Maui describes treating patients injured by the fires
Dr. Art Chasen, trauma medical director at Maui Memorial Medical Center, described to ABC News what it’s been like treating patients who have been injured by the devastating wildfires.
He said Tuesday night was the first night he experienced a mass casualty event in the 12 years since he has worked at the hospital. Staff saw about 40 patients throughout the night, eight with life-threatening severe burns and the rest with minor burns, smoke inhalation injuries and other fire-related injuries.
Chasen described one patient, a fireman, who got seriously injured while trying to save people from a burning structure.
“He just kept going back until he ran out of oxygen,” Chasen said. “He ended up somehow taking off his mask and collapsing in the fire. His fellow firefighters went in and rescued him. He had severe burns on his legs at the scene.”
“He coded, his heart hard stopped and so he received CPR for three to five minutes…and they brought him back and he was in our ICU overnight.”
The fireman was transferred to Queen’s Medical Center in Oahu. In total, nine patients were transferred to Queen’s and Straub Medical Center, also in Oahu.
Maui Memorial has seen about 60 patients total as of Friday morning, and Chasen expects a second wave of injured patients now that roads are reopening, but insisted that the hospital is not overwhelmed or struggling to accommodate patients.
“We were not overwhelmed. We’ve never turned anybody away,” he said. “We have beds available. We have ICU space available. We’ve been seeing regular trauma patients throughout the time, like motorcycle accidents and things like that. So our hospital surged to meet the demand.”
-ABC News’ Mary Kekatos
Aug 11, 5:43 PM EDT
How the wildfires are affecting people’s physical and mental health
Impacts from the deadly Maui wildfires go beyond evacuations and damaged buildings. Experts say the fires are also affecting residents’ and tourists’ physical health and could have impacts on their mental health.
Wildfire smoke is a mixture of gases, pollutants and particles that people can inhale, penetrating the lungs and even entering the bloodstream.
Research has also shown wildfires and the subsequent smoke can lead to increased rates of anxiety and depression and become worse among people who already have these conditions.
Read more about the possible health impacts here.
-ABC News’ Mary Kekatos
Aug 11, 5:28 PM EDT
Jeff Bezos and fiancée pledge $100 million to Maui
Jeff Bezos and his fiancée, Lauren Sanchez, have pledged $100 million to Maui, Sanchez announced on Instagram.
“Jeff and I are heartbroken by what’s happening in Maui,” Sanchez said in the post, which Bezos also shared on his Instagram account. “We are thinking of all the families that have lost so much and a community that has been left devastated.”
She said they are creating a Maui Fund and dedicating $100 million “to help Maui get back on its feet now and over the coming years as the continuing needs reveal themselves.”
Aug 11, 3:53 PM EDT
People will be allowed in homes Friday, officials say
West Maui residents will be allowed into their homes Friday, officials said.
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen announced during a radio update that they will be reopening parts of West Maui with proof of residency, and for visitors with proof of hotel reservation. Access to Lahaina will begin at noon local time, officials said.
There will be a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., he said. During those hours there will be no unauthorized public access to Lahaina to protect residences and property, officials said.
“They will see destruction like they’ve not ever seen in their lives,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said in an interview on local station KHON Friday.
“Do not go into any structure remotely effected by fires, we do not want to see any other casualties,” he added.
-ABC News’ Jennifer Watts and Alyssa Pone
Aug 11, 10:18 AM EDT
14,900 visitors left Maui on flights Thursday
As the wildfires continue to rage, 14,900 visitors left Maui on flights Thursday, according to Maui County.
Visitors wanting to leave Maui have been asked to book flights off the island. They can book flights to Honolulu, then continue on another flight to the Mainland.
Aug 11, 7:38 AM EDT
Lahaina looks like ‘a war zone,’ Maui County mayor says
Devastating wildfires on Maui have left its historic town of Lahaina looking like “a war zone,” according to Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen.
He recently toured the damage with other local and state officials for the first time.
“The closest thing I can compare it to is perhaps a war zone or maybe a bomb went off,” Bissen told ABC News’ Eva Pilgrim in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.
“It was cars in the street, doors open, you know, melted to the ground,” he added. “Most structures no longer exist and for blocks and blocks of this.”
The mayor, who grew up on Maui, said he’s familiar with Lahaina. His mother worked at one of the local restaurants for 17 years.
“It doesn’t resemble anything that it looked like when I was growing up,” he said.
As the death toll from the wildfires continues to climb, authorities are bringing in cadaver dogs to search for more victims, according to the mayor.
“So we will be increasing our area that we can search,” Bissen said.
Nevertheless, the mayor remained hopeful that Maui “will rebuild.” President Joe Biden has signed an emergency declaration for the Hawaiian island, allowing access to federal assets and funds, which Bissen said they “intend” to use. There’s also been “an outpouring of so much donations and offers of help,” according to the mayor.
“There is so much support,” he said. “Right now, our focus is on fighting the fires, saving lives where we can or preventing further harm, of course property as well. We’ll get to the investigative stage when that’s appropriate.”
While Lahaina and the west side of Maui has been shut down amid the active wildfires, Bissen noted that the rest of the island remains open.
Aug 11, 3:54 AM EDT
Death toll climbs to 55 on Maui
At least 55 people have died as wildfires tear through the Hawaiian island of Maui, officials said.
Two more fatalities were confirmed on Thursday night amid the active Lahaina fire, bringing the death toll to 55, according to a press release from Maui County.
A total of 19 deaths were confirmed on Thursday and 36 were confirmed on Wednesday, according to Maui County.
Officials have repeatedly said that they expect the death toll to rise.
Aug 10, 10:51 PM EDT
Maui wildfires ‘likely the largest natural disaster in state’s history’: Governor
The wildfires that have devastated Maui are “likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii’s state history,” Gov. Josh Green said during a press briefing Thursday evening.
Green went on to call the wildfires “catastrophic” and said the state is seeking 2,000 hotel rooms to help the displaced people of Maui.
The governor said “we will continue” seeing loss of life. At least 53 people have died from the wildfires, officials said earlier in the day.
Green also called on residents to help, saying: “If you have additional space in your home, if you have the capacity to take someone in from West Maui, please do.”
After surveying the damage earlier in the day, Green estimated it will take billions of dollars and many years to rebuild Lahaina, and he estimates well over 1,000 buildings were destroyed.
Officials still don’t know exactly how many people are missing, according to Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier.
Aug 10, 9:38 PM EDT
A community struggling to cope
As a funeral director at the Nakamura Mortuary in Wailuku, Carol Chaney is no stranger to dealing with death — but usually, it’s other people’s losses. Now, loss has hit home in an unimaginably painful way. She says she’s still in shock and can’t reach family members in Lahaina.
“We’re still trying to gather ourselves. It’s still very fresh. There’s still a lot to be done,” she told ABC News over the phone.
Since the Maui wildfires, the calls she says she’s received aren’t to make funeral arrangements for those lost — it’s people calling to see if she has information on their missing loved ones. She doesn’t.
“We really have no answers for them which makes it even harder,” Chaney said. “It is getting a little overwhelming, but I know there’s more that’s coming.”
“I don’t know how to explain it, we want to do so much, but you can’t because you’re stuck. This has never happened,” she said.
Even as the death toll continues to rise, Chaney said she’s still coming to terms with what has happened.
“I’m kind of just trying to — I’m in shock. I just don’t want to believe that this happened,” she said. “And today it’s raining. Where was the rain yesterday? Where was it the day before?”
-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik
Aug 10, 7:45 PM EDT
Coast Guard says it’s rescued 57 people in Maui
The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday it has rescued 57 people amid its response to the Lahaina wildfires in Maui.
Seventeen people were saved from the water, while another 40 were found ashore by Coast Guard Station Maui boat crews, it said.
“The Coast Guard has no reports of missing persons in the water, however Coast Guard aircrews and surface assets continue search and rescue operations,” the agency said.
Aug 10, 7:30 PM EDT
Death toll increases to 53
The death toll from the Maui fires has increased to 53, officials said Thursday.
“As firefighting efforts continue, 17 additional fatalities have been confirmed today amid the active Lahaina fire” as of 1:10 p.m. local time, Maui County said. “This brings the death toll to 53 people.”
No other details were available.
Aug 10, 6:56 PM EDT
Perfect storm of weather conditions led to devastating wildfires
A perfect storm of weather conditions led to the massive inferno that has killed dozens of people in Maui and caused widespread destruction.
The fires, which sparked Tuesday night, were fueled by an unfortunate combination of a landscape parched by drought conditions and strong winds.
Read more about the conditions here.
-ABC News’ Julia Jacobo
Aug 10, 6:46 PM EDT
Husband, wife reunite after losing Lahaina home in fire
While fleeing their burning home in Lahaina overnight Tuesday, Steven Scott got separated from his wife, Patricia, and had been unable to get ahold of her — until now.
After more than 30 hours without a phone, Scott told ABC News he was able to borrow someone’s phone with just 6% battery life left and his wife answered. She had made her way to Walmart and found a way to charge her phone.
Scott quickly told his wife to meet him at the McDonald’s before the phone ran out of battery, telling her he would wait “as long as it takes.” They were soon reunited at the restaurant.
That wasn’t the only reunion for the family on Thursday; Scott said he was also able to locate his son and daughter-in-law, who had fled the flames with only their pets and a few dollars. The whole family lost their homes and business in the fire.
Scott previously recounted to ABC News his harrowing escape. He said he tried to fight the fire with a hose before managing to flee.
“I was trapped,” the 70-year-old said. “We had to run to the harbor.”
-ABC News’ Bonnie McLean
Aug 10, 6:19 PM EDT
Lahaina residents wait to return to check on homes
At the road block to Lahaina, dozens of residents who have slept in their cars are parked along the street waiting for the opportunity to check on their homes and neighbors. Right now, officials are only allowing emergency response crews to pass the blockade.
Lahaina resident Al Crisostomo told ABC News through tears about his escape from the flames days ago.
“It was a huge black smoke and it’s indescribable, it’s like apocalyptic,” he said.
Crisostomo said he fears his home is gone, among the hundreds decimated.
Since the early morning, dozens of emergency resources have passed through the blockade. Multiple Hawaiian Electric trucks are en route to restore power, and several truck loads of food have also gone through.
-ABC News’ Melissa Adan
Aug 10, 5:38 PM EDT
Wildfire in Lahaina 80% contained, officials say
The wildfire that has caused significant damage in Lahaina is reported to be 80% contained, Maui County officials said.
Among the other two active fires in Maui, the Pulehu fire, in an area of Kīhei, is reported to be 70% contained, officials said.
There is no update at this time on the Upcountry fire, in the areas of Olinda and Upper Kula, officials said.
Amid the disaster, Lahaina remains without power.
Some 1,400 people stayed at Kahului Airport overnight Wednesday while waiting to evacuate, the county said.
Aug 10, 5:17 PM EDT
Some tourists just learning extent of the fires
Three buses with 168 tourists just arrived at the packed Kahului Airport in Maui. Passengers told ABC News that they have not had power or cell service for two days. Some said they had no idea how bad these fires were until half an hour ago when they first got cell phone service back and were able to see the extent of the devastation.
Some don’t have plane reservations, while others have tickets for the weekend. They said the resorts told them they had to leave and to get on the buses, so they did without much of a plan and little information.
-ABC News’ Will Carr and Timmy Truong
Aug 10, 4:55 PM EDT
Lahaina resident ‘scared’ to learn death toll
Lahaina resident Leif Wright held back tears as he told ABC News Live he is “scared” to learn the death toll of the fire.
“I don’t even know what the body count is going to be. I’m very scared to hear, but I’m really nervous. A lot of friends are missing,” Wright said.
Wright evacuated after trying to help save neighbors and pets in his neighborhood. He lost his home in the fire.
He urged anyone who wants to help to donate to food drives or help give clothing to residents who lost everything.
Leif Wright, a resident of Lahiana, joins @kyraphillips with an emotional account of the wildfires that burned down his home.
“The entire neighborhood was covered in smoke…a lot of people are still missing.” pic.twitter.com/TWWCenLVLu
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) August 10, 2023
-ABC News’ Michelle Stoddart
Aug 10, 4:21 PM EDT
‘So many people are missing’
In an interview with ABC News Live, Malika Dudley, meteorologist for ABC Honolulu affiliate KITV, said residents are “feeling so, so sorrowful” as more damage is being surveyed and the death toll continues to rise.
“So many people are missing,” Dudley said during the emotional interview. “We’re seeing a lot of things coming up on Instagram, my grandma, my grandpa, my son. I just saw one and a 12-year-old that’s missing. There’s no words. There’s no words.”
Dudley said that Maui residents will need “a lot of support to get out of this.”
“Those are people’s homes, people’s businesses, people’s livelihood,” Dudley said. “And this is on top of the you know, what is most poignant to us right now, which is just the loss of life and trying to reunite families right now.”
-ABC News’ Michelle Stoddart
Aug 10, 3:43 PM EDT
Survivor jumped into water to escape flames: ‘It seemed like I might drown’
Shawn Dougherty is recovering from burn injuries at a shelter set up at the War Memorial Gym in Maui after jumping into water to escape from the flames.
Dougherty told ABC News the “first sign of peril” on Tuesday was when a tree in his backyard snapped from strong wind gusts. When a house in his Lahaina neighborhood started to fill with smoke, he and his girlfriend drove toward the harbor, where businesses were on fire.
He and his girlfriend ended up leaving their car and jumping in the water to escape the flames. Dougherty said he got cuts and bruises from getting knocked against the rocks and coral.
“At one point, it seemed like I might drown,” he said. “I’m a good swimmer, but the water was just really rough because of the wind and the turbulence.”
They had to temporarily swim away from the rock wall because of the intense heat from the fires, he said. A first responder eventually told them to get out of the water because “it’s not going to get any better,” so he and his girlfriend took the chance and climbed out.
“I couldn’t even make it across the street because the pavement was so hot. And now I have second degree burns on the bottom of my feet,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty said he had difficulties walking due to his burns and lost track of his girlfriend after getting out of the water. He ended up waiting in the water and on the rock wall until firefighters carried him to a truck and ultimately brought him to a hospital for treatment.
He’s been at the shelter since Wednesday morning and hasn’t been able to get ahold of his girlfriend since.
“I’ve got to find a way to procure a phone so I can start making contacts with people and find my beautiful girlfriend,” he said. “I’m so scared.”
-ABC News’ Izzy Alvarez
Aug 10, 1:12 PM EDT
Biden approves Hawaii emergency disaster declaration
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration in Hawaii and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires.
The declaration unlocked grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property loses and other programs to help residents and business owners recover from the wildfires. It also unlocks federal funding for state and eligible local governments for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawaii County.
Biden also spoke with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green about the wildfires to express his condolences for the lives lost and the vast destruction of land and property.
“President Biden confirmed he signed a Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii that will deliver additional federal resources and support on top of the actions already underway by FEMA, the National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal agencies to support the emergency response,” the White House said in a statement.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Aug 10, 12:31 PM EDT
United cancels inbound flights to Kahului Airport, as airlines add extra flights from Maui
In the aftermath of the Hawaii wildfires, airlines flying to Maui have added extra flights to take people off the island. United Airlines canceled Thursday’s inbound flights to Kahului Airport so planes can fly empty and be used as passenger flights back to the mainland.
Other airlines told ABC News they are continuing their scheduled operations and have issued waivers or flexible travel policies.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it is monitoring the fires and winds, but operations remain normal. According to FlightAware, 14 flights at Kahului Airport have been canceled and 18 are delayed.
-ABC News’ Clara McMichael
Aug 10, 11:21 AM EDT
Chaos at Maui’s main airport as hundreds try to leave
Hundreds of people spent the night at the Kahului Airport on Maui, after local authorities asked everyone who does not need to be on the island to leave amid raging wildfires.
Many raced to the airport on Wednesday only to find out that their flights had been canceled or delayed. So, they slept there on the ground, on baggage carts and on X-ray machines — whatever they could find that was relatively comfortable.
Some people told ABC News that they are hoping to fly out on Thursday. Others said they were informed by airlines that they won’t be able to get on flights until the weekend.
One mother told ABC News that she has rented a car that she will sleep in with her two young children for the next two days. But that, she said with a tear in her eye, is nothing compared to losing your house or the life of a loved one.
Aug 10, 10:46 AM EDT
Hawaii governor to tour wildfire damage on Maui
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green is scheduled to arrive in Maui early Thursday.
Green is expected to hold a joint press conference with Maui Mayor Richard Bissen after touring the wildfire damage.
Aug 10, 8:01 AM EDT
3 wildfires remain active, uncontained on Maui
There are three active wildfires burning on Maui as of Thursday morning, according to Maui County spokesperson Mahina Martin.
Martin told ABC News that those fires are still not contained, though improved weather conditions have helped the situation.
There was no update for the number of acres that the blazes have burned. The Kula fire was a little over 1,000 acres as of early Wednesday.
-ABC News’ Alyssa Pone
Aug 10, 6:41 AM EDT
Latest wind forecast for Hawaii
The National Weather Service has canceled all high wind and red flag warning alerts for Hawaii as wind speeds are expected to decrease slightly on Thursday.
But wind gusts are still forecast to get up to 25 to 35 miles per hour, which will not help the fight to contain raging wildfires on Maui.
Over the last few days, winds have gusted to as high as 82 mph in parts of Hawaii. In Maui County, wind speeds got up to 67 mph.
This is due to very strong trade winds and the increased pressure gradient between the high pressure to the north of Hawaii and Hurricane Dora to the south.
Dora never hit Hawaii, only coming as close as 700 miles to the south. So the winds are not due to Dora but rather the pressure gradient effect.
-ABC News’ Max Golembo
Aug 10, 4:35 AM EDT
Death toll rises to 36 on Maui
At least 36 people have died as wildfires tear through the Hawaiian island of Maui, according to officials.
During a press conference early Thursday, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen confirmed that the death toll is “growing.”
“We knew of six earlier. We are probably around 36 as of now,” Bissen said.
Maui County also confirmed in a statement late Wednesday that “36 total fatalities have been discovered today”
-ABC News’ Alyssa Pone
Aug 09, 11:15 PM EDT
More than 271 structures impacted
Authorities say more than 271 structures have been impacted, as fires continue to burn into early evening local time.
A federal team has arrived on the island to assist in search and rescue efforts in Lahaina, Maui County said Wednesday.
Close to 100 Maui firefighters have been on duty around the clock, including 11 from the state airport, the county said. The Maui Fire Department has reached out for additional support, requesting 20 more firefighters from Honolulu, Oahu and an incident management team.
Firefighters are addressing spot fires in Lahaina. Two Chinooks, along with four Windward Aviation helicopters, have been battling all three fires with water drops. Three additional helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy have conducted search and rescue along the West Maui coastline, the county said.
The Maui FD reported no significant changes for the Lahaina, Upcountry and Pūlehu fires as of the afternoon local time.
There are no new evacuations, however, motorists are prohibited from entering Lahaina while the fire is active, with police on hand to prevent entry into the area. Residents who are still in Lahaina have been advised they can evacuate via Kahakuloa.
Aug 09, 9:37 PM EDT
FEMA approves disaster relief as wildfires rage, thousands without power
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Hawaii’s request for a disaster declaration for help with a wildfire on Kohala Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii, according to Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency.
Around 200 homes in and near Kohala Ranch have been impacted by the fires that began on Tuesday, the state’s emergency management agency said in a press release.
“The fire was also threatening a volunteer fire department, local electrical transmission lines and an AT&T cellular communications tower in the area,” Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency said.
There are 12,400 customers without power, according to Hawaiian Electric. The company is working to get some power restored.
Aug 09, 7:30 PM EDT
Helicopter pilot on Maui devastation
When helicopter pilot Richard Olsten flew above Lahaina, Maui, on Wednesday, he said he was not prepared for what he saw.
“It was heartbreaking,” Olsten told ABC News Live. “There’s hundreds of homes burned down to the ground. The entire area of Front Street, the whole historic area, is gone, burned to the ground.”
“We were just speechless with one another as we viewed this horrible destruction of the town,” Olsten said.
Aug 09, 7:27 PM EDT
Latest from airlines
So far on Wednesday, there have been 17 cancellations and 46 delays at Kahului Airport (OGG) in Maui, according to FlightAware.
Delta Air Lines said it anticipates operating a full schedule out of Maui on Wednesday, adding two more flights to help accommodate customers from flights canceled the day before.
American Airlines said it canceled all flights to Kahului Airport on Wednesday but expects to operate the majority of flights out of the airport “to ensure customers evacuating OGG are able to do so.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said earlier it’s monitoring the wildfire and winds in Hawaii, but operations remain normal. A spokesperson said that, if necessary, the agency will take steps to manage the flow of traffic safely into areas that experience reduced visibility from wildfire smoke.
-ABC News’ Amanda Maile
Aug 09, 6:47 PM EDT
‘I was trapped’: Maui fire survivors speak out
A Maui resident recounted escaping from his burning home in an interview with ABC News’ Gio Benitez on Wednesday.
“We started smelling the smoke, and that’s when we knew we had trouble,” Steve Scott said. “It came, and it came quick.”
Scott said he tried to fight the fire with a hose before managing to flee.
“I was trapped,” he said. “We had to run to the harbor.”
Scott said the loss is “horrible,” especially along Front Street in downtown Lahaina, just as the tourist-driven area started to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t know if we can recover from this,” he said.
Aug 09, 6:43 PM EDT
Biden on wildfire response
President Joe Biden and the first lady said they are sending condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the Maui wildfires.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Biden said he has ordered “all available Federal assets on the Islands to help with response” and is urging “all residents to continue to follow evacuation orders, listen to the instructions of first responders and officials, and stay alert.”
-ABC News’ Justin Gomez
Aug 09, 4:43 PM EDT
‘Our beautiful island has been ravaged by fires’
Maui Chamber of Commerce President Pamela Tumpap detailed the level of devastation in a phone interview with ABC News Live.
“Our beautiful island has been ravaged by fires from the mountain to the ocean,” Tumpap said.
Tumpap said some areas look like they have been “completely leveled.”
“We’ve lost a lot of homes and we’ve lost a lot of business places and we’ve lost cultural and historic resources that were in the Chinatown that have burned to the ground,” Tumpap said. “We are seeing fires unlike what we’ve ever seen before.”
Tumpap cautioned travelers against coming to the island, saying it is “not going to be the Maui vacation that you planned” and visitors will have a hard time finding resources.
Aug 09, 4:20 PM EDT
At least 6 deaths reported in Maui, mayor says
There have been at least six deaths reported in Maui County amid devastating wildfires, officials said.
“We’re still in a search and rescue mode, and so I don’t know what will happen to that number,” Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.
More than 2,100 people are in shelters in Maui County, he said.
Shelters are “overrun” amid the disaster, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said while urging tourists not to travel there.
“This is not a safe place to be,” she said.
Aug 09, 4:01 PM EDT
Mother evacuates in middle of the night with 2 children
Maui resident Malika Dudley described to ABC News Live her experience evacuating from the raging wildfires in Hawaii with her two children in the middle of the night.
Currently in Haliimaile, which is on the slopes of Haleakalā, Dudley can still see the fire from the mountain growing and spreading.
“We were in the very first evacuation at 1 a.m.. I started to smell smoke in my home, and I woke my husband up and he said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it.’ At 1:30, I thought, ‘No, something’s on fire in our house."”
Eventually, Dudley, who is also a meteorologist for ABC affiliate KITV, got a call from their neighbor and the fire was right above their property.
“We got a call from our neighbor who said, ‘Get out of your house.’ And we looked out the window and there was a red glow outside of our window,” she said. “The fire was right above our property.”
Aug 09, 3:50 PM EDT
Hawaii governor: ‘Some loss of life is expected’
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green warned “some loss of life is expected” amid the wildfires.
“Heroic efforts by first responders have prevented many casualties from occurring, but some loss of life is expected,” Green said in a statement Wednesday. “Our entire emergency response team, including the Hawai‘i National Guard has mobilized and is being supported by FEMA.”
Green will be returning to the islands immediately due to the wildfire emergency, his office announced.
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