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Maui fire update: 3 large blazes continue; 6 fatalities confirmed as evacuations continue

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West Maui fire aftermath // audio KISS FM Maui – Ed Kanoi
VC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)

Maui fire crews continue to battle three large wildfires — one that has devastated Lāhainā, another in Pūlehu that has traveled down to Kīhei and one in Kula, which has burned more than 1,000 acres since it was first reported early Tuesday morning.

A federal team arrived Aug. 9 on Maui and is on the ground in Lāhainā to assist with search and rescue efforts amid the active Lāhainā fire.

Flyovers of Lāhainā by U.S. Civil Air Patrol and the Maui Fire Department showed that more than 271 structures have been impacted. Widespread damage to the West Maui community, the harbor and surrounding areas are being documented.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Maui Fire Department reported no significant changes for the Lāhainā, Upcountry and Pūlehu fires. There were no new evacuations. There were also no containment numbers at this time.

Maui Fire Department has requested 20 additional firefighters from Honolulu and an incident management team. Close to 100 Maui firefighters have been on duty around the clock since the fires began, including 11 from state airport firefighting and rescue personnel.

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Four helicopters were deployed for water drops in Lāhainā. Firefighters were addressing spot fires throughout the community.

Two Chinook helicopters, 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 were conducting search and rescue operations along the West Maui coastline.

At 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstanders had received reports regarding multiple people in the water needing rescue after taking shelter from fire and smoke in Lāhainā.

Wednesday evening, the Coast Guard’s 45-foot response boat medium crew arrived on scene and rescued 14 survivors from the Lāhainā Harbor breakwall with all survivors reported to be in stable condition.

Video shows the devastation caused by high winds that resulted in a flareup of the West Maui fire on Tuesday. Work crews who had been conducting repairs were evacuated late Tuesday. This video shows crews exiting Kuialua Street and heading makai on Lāhaināluna Road and then onto the Bypass. Video also captures some imagery of the Kelawea Mauka/Lāhaināluna area. (Video credit: Frank Santos)

Motorists may not enter Lāhainā during the active fire, but people already in the community can exit via Kahakuloa. Maui police are stationed at Māʻalaea and at Waiheʻe to prevent entry into Lāhainā until the area is secure.

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Only Kahakuloa residents may access Kahakuloa via Waiheʻe.

A mass bus evacuation for visitors was staged Wednesday afternoon at Sheraton Maui Resort in Kaʻanapali to take visitors directly to Kahului Airport. Five Maui County buses, each with a capacity of 49 people, and five Polynesian Adventure Tours buses, each with a capacity of 50, provided the transportation.

Personal vehicles can go to the airport through Kahahuloa. Rental vehicles can be left on site.

  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)
  • PC: Air Maui Helicopter / Richard Olsten (8.9.23)

On Wednesday afternoon, the Transportation Security Administration was reporting seats are available on outgoing flights at Kahului Airport. Travelers need to call airlines to make reservations.

Hawaiian Airlines extended its operations Wednesday, with three additional late-night flights to Honolulu from Kahului to help evacuate travelers affected by brush fires. The new flights were timed to meet travelers expected to arrive at Kahului via Maui County buses.

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Flights are scheduled to depart Kahului starting at 11:10 p.m. and running through 2 a.m. Thursday. Hawaiian earlier Wednesday added six extra flights between Honolulu and Kahului to accommodate departures out of Maui, as well as to support emergency response efforts.

Four extra Kahului-Honolulu flights have been added for Aug. 10.  

Hawaiian is also continuing to offer reduced $19 main cabin fares out of Maui to facilitate urgent travel needs.

Thousands of travelers are attempting leave Maui as crews continue to battle wildfires across the island. Kahului Airport. PC: Kalani Prince (8.9.23)

West Maui remains without power and has no landline or cellphone service.

Maui Memorial Medical Center has been treating burn, smoke inhalation and other fire-related injuries as a result of the Maui fires since Tuesday night. As of this afternoon, all patients have been cared for; five have been admitted, including two for critical injuries.

Additionally since Tuesday night, seven patients have been transferred to Oʻahu for specialty services, including some fire-related injuries. All other patients have been treated and released.

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen delivered the solemn news Wednesday morning that at least six people have died amidst the brush fires sweeping across the island during the past day and a half.

The U.S. Coast Guard and its partners continue mass rescue operations related to the Maui wildfires. (Photo credit: US Coast Guard Hawaiʻi Pacific District 14)

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