Maui wildfire update: 55 fatalities confirmed amid active Lāhainā fire
9:39 p.m. update on Thursday: The death toll from the devastating Maui wildfires has increased to 55 amid the active Lāhainā fire.
Thirty-six fatalities were confirmed as Aug. 9. Another 17 were confirmed earlier today. Two were added tonight.
No other details are available at this time.
Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaiʻi, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara and various federal and county government officials joined together Thursday on Maui to provide a coordinated update on the status of Maui’s damage and ongoing efforts to support those affected by the wildfires.
The event was livestreamed on Green’s Facebook page and sought to share the latest news after an on-the-ground assessment of the affected areas.
“What we saw today was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawai‘i state history,” said Green. “It’s going to take a great deal of time to recover from this, but we have the support from every level of government all the way up to the federal level, especially given President [Joe] Biden’s approval of my disaster declaration request today. It will be a tremendous effort, but we will come together as a community and begin working toward rebuilding from this tragedy.”
The correct number to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency is 800-621-3362.
7:41 p.m. update on Thursday: State, local and federal authorities during a press briefing provided an update Thursday afternoon about the Maui wildfires.
Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green said the disaster will be in the billions of dollars and it will take years to rebuild. He also called the situation possibly the largest natural disaster in Hawaiʻi history.
Maui Police Chief John Pelliteir described the damage as a scar on the face of Maui. He called for patience and prayer as first responders work. According to police, traffic into West Maui is limited to first responders.
While 53 deaths have been confirmed, more are expected and search and recovery efforts continue. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said first responders and emergency officials are focused on saving lives and gaining containment of the fires still burning.
Officials are looking to eventually house thousands of displaced residents in 2,000 rooms.
Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura provided an update on the latest firefighting efforts, which are not limited to Lāhainā and includes other wildfires burning in other parts of the island.
1:55 p.m. update on Thursday: Seventeen additional fatalities have been confirmed today amid the active Lāhainā fire. This brings the death toll to 53 people.
12:07 p.m. update on Thursday: The Lāhainā wildfire is now 80% contained. Maui fire crews continue to battle active fires in Pūlehu/Kīhei and Upcountry/Kula.
In Lāhainā, firefighting crews further secured the perimeter of wildland areas that burned. That effort is continuing today, along with patrolling areas where structures burned. Civil Air Patrol flyovers Wednesday of Lāhainā Town showed more than 270 structures were impacted by the fire.
The death toll remains at 36.
The Pūlehu fire, in an area mauka of Kīhei, was 70% contained this morning, after heavy equipment was used to create firebreaks through the night. Firefighters are continuing to secure the perimeter this morning.
A containment percentage for the fire Upcountry is pending further assessment this morning. Firefighting efforts focused on two main areas of Olinda and Upper Kula. Firefighting crews are continuing efforts to protect structures and extinguish smoldering hot spots. State forestry workers were leading the firefighting effort in the Olinda area. On the Kula side, the fire is most active in gulches that are difficult to access.
Entry into Lāhainā remains restricted while the firefighting effort continues, with Lāhainā-bound vehicles being stopped on Honoapi‘ilani Highway at Māʻalaea. Honoapiilani Highway is open for traffic leaving West Maui. Motorists can also leave West Maui through Waiheʻe. Only Kahakuloa residents may access the village through Waiheʻe.
Lāhainā remains without power. State and county crews are working to clear roads and other areas of trees and debris.
8:37 a.m. update on Thursday: Maui fire crews continue to battle three large wildfires–one in Lāhainā, one 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.
The death toll has not grown from 36. There is still no power in West Maui with approximately 12,400 customers offline. The five emergency shelters are housing 942 people.
A mass bus evacuation for residents and visitors in West Maui has resumed.
Bus boarding will be staged at Whalers Village entryway fronting Kāʻanapali Parkway. Visitors will be taken directly to the Kahului Airport. Residents will be taken to a Central Maui shelter.
Three Roberts Hawai‘i Motor coaches, each with a capacity of 49 people will be available. Additional buses from partner agencies will be added in based on demand.
Eighteen Hawai‘i Island firefighters are ready to head to Maui if their assistance is needed.
Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaiʻi and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires beginning on Aug. 8, 2023, and continuing.
The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Maui County.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Further details are posted HERE.
Gov. Josh Green has ordered that the United States flag and the Hawai‘i state flag be flown at half-staff at the Hawai‘i State Capitol and at all state offices and agencies, as well as at Hawai‘i National Guard facilities in the State of Hawai‘i, effective immediately, in mourning of those lost from the Maui wildfires. The flags will remain lowered until further notice while recovery efforts are underway.
Original post: Late Wednesday evening, Maui County reported that the death toll had risen to 36 in the Lahaina fire that devastated the historic town and is still burning.
Maui fire crews also continue to battle two other large wildfires — one 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 Lahaina to assist with search and rescue efforts amid the active Lahaina 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 Lahaina, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.