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Maui wildfires update 3: Number of confirmed dead increases to 93; flare-ups continue in Lāhainā and Upcountry

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An aerial photo of a portion of devastated Lāhainā on Maui. (Courtesy of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources)

Update at 10:35 p.m. Saturday: The death toll in the Maui wildfires, which Hawai’i Gov. Josh Green earlier today called the worst natural disaster in Hawai’i history, has climbed again. The total stands now at 93, which just two identified.

The Pūlehu/Kīhei Fire was declared 100% contained Saturday, but firefighters continue to extinguish flare-ups in the Lāhainā and Upcountry Maui fires.

In the Upcountry blaze, three structures in Olinda and 16 structures in Kula were destroyed.

Update at 6:40 p.m. Saturday: The number of fatalities in the devastating Maui wildfires is now up to 89, with just two identified.

U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell said during a press conference Saturday afternoon with Hawai’i Gov. Josh Green and other Maui, state and federal officials that the Lāhainā Fire was grass-fed and moved low to the ground at an incredibly fast pace horizontally from structure to structure. It outpaced anything firefighters could have done in the early hours.

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The Lāhainā Fire has now sadly superseded the 2018 Camp Fire in California to become the deadliest wildfire during the past 100 years in the United States. The Camp Fire claimed 85 lives.

The last time a U.S. wildfire fire was deadlier was the 1918 Cloquet Fire in Minnesota, which was caused by sparks on the local railroads and dry conditions, killing 453 people.

Maui Police Chief John Pelliteir reported that 3% of the devastated area has been searched so far. He urged people looking for loved ones to go to the Family Assistance Center at the Kahului Community Center. The center is open until 8 p.m. tonight and again from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Search and rescue efforts continue, with 12 more cadaver-sniffing dogs brought in to help. There likely will be more deaths to add to the total.

Lāhainā fire damage along Honoapiʻilani Highway on Maui. (Photo by Cammy Clark/Big Island Now)

There are 150 personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the ground, 90 of whom are assisting with search and rescue operations. The Hawai’i National Guard and U.S. military are sending additional personnel to the island to help with the efforts; 50 National Guardsmen are already on Maui.

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Other state and federal agencies and officials also are working with local authorities as the situation continues.

The wildfires are the largest natural disaster the state has every experienced, Green said during the press conference.

New FEMA maps show 2,207 structures damaged or destroyed in the Lāhainā Fire, a stark difference from the 270 structures initially reported by county authorities. The estimated cost to rebuild in Lāhainā is projected at $5.52 billion; in Kula is $434 million.

The Lāhainā, Pūlehu/Kīhei and Kula fires remain active.

Nearly 9,000 customers remain without power in the Lahaina area. Power was restored to about 3,700 customers in Nāpili, Puʻukoliʻi and Māhinahina, where essential public services such as water pumps and first responder facilities are located. Seventy customers are still without power in the Upcountry.

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Mass visitor/resident evacuations out of West Maui continue. A total of 1,418 people are being housed at six shelters.

The Maui-Lānaʻi Passenger Ferry, operated by Expeditions, resumed interisland service Saturday.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation worked expeditiously to clear the ferry dock of fire ash and debris at the Māʻalaea Small Boat Harbor to accommodate the ferry.

Typically, the ferry operates between the Lāhainā Small Boat Harbor on Maui and the Manele Small Boat Harbor on Lānaʻi, but numerous burned and sunken vessels and debris in the water at Lāhainā Small Boat Harbor led to the U.S. Coast Guard establishing a temporary emergency safety zone at the harbor and in surrounding waters with no vessels allowed without Coast Guard approval.

The ferry service is a critical mode of transport, providing access to medical care for Lānaʻi
residents and access between the islands for first responders.

Expeditions told Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation leadership that the company expects to offer ferry services Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to provide transportation for service providers and first responders.

Update at 4:23 p.m. Saturday: The confirmed death toll in the devastating Maui wildfires remains at 80 in the most recent update from Maui County.

A fire reported the night of Aug. 11 in Kaʻanapali above Puʻukoliʻi remained contained Saturday after burning about 1 acre. Firefighters were working to fully extinguish the fire.

Original story: The Pacific Disaster Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have released damage assessment maps for the multiple wildfires in Maui County.

As of Aug. 11, damage assessments related to the Lāhainā Fire show an estimated total of 2,719 structures exposed, 2,207 structures damaged or destroyed and 2,170 acres burned; 86% of the buildings exposed to the fire were residential.

The latest update from Maui County at 2:05 a.m. today showed no change in the ongoing devastating situation. Firefighters continue working to extinguish flare-ups and contain fires in Lāhainā, Pūlehu/Kīhei and Upcountry Maui.

The number of fatalities stands at 80 confirmed. A Family Assistance Center for those looking for information about loved ones who are unaccounted for will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Sunday at Kahului Community Center.

Police continue to restrict access into West Maui through Maʻalaea and Waiheʻe. Honoapiʻilani Highway is open for vehicles leaving Lāhainā. The burned historic Lāhainā area remains barricaded, with people warned to stay out of the area because of hazards such as toxic particles from smoldering areas. Wearing a mask and gloves is advised.

The Maui County Department of Transportation is coordinating buses to transport people staying at emergency shelters to the County Department of Motor Vehicles and Licensing, which will be open for special hours today so shelter occupants can have their driver’s licenses and state identification cards reissued. Fees will be waived.

On Friday, a total of 1,418 people were being housed at emergency evacuation shelters at War Memorial Gymnasium, Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Maui High School, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Maui Lani, Kings Cathedral Church and Grace Bible Church.

Additional cellphone services are becoming available in West Maui. Residents are encouraged to limit phone calls and video streaming services in order to free up bandwidth with telecommunication providers.

Cellphone users also are reminded to text, not talk, so everyone can share the limited resources.

For organizations and individuals wanting to offer services or donations to aid in rescue and relief efforts, information can be found by clicking here.

  • Photo of a portion of the destruction caused by a wildfire in Lahaina, Maui. (Photo by Cammy Clark/Big Island Now)
  • Photo of a portion of the destruction caused by a wildfire in Lahaina, Maui. (Photo by Cammy Clark/Big Island Now)

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