Maui wildfires claim 93 lives, becoming deadliest US wildfire in over a century

Estimated read time 5 min read

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Deadliest US wildfire in recent history hits Maui

The Maui wildfires in Hawaii have resulted to a loss of 93 lives on Saturday (August 12), making it the deadliest wildfire in the US since 1918. The death toll is expected to rise as cadaver dogs sift through the wreckage in Lahaina, the historic resort town destroyed by the wildfire just four days ago.

The cost of rebuilding Lahaina is estimated at $5.5 billion, as confirmed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The extent of the destruction is evident with over 2,200 structures damaged or destroyed and more than 2,100 acres (850 hectares) of land burned.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green, in a press conference on Saturday (August 12), warned that the death toll is likely to increase as search efforts continue. Cadaver dogs have covered only three percent of the search area, underlining the challenges faced in locating victims.

Amid the tragedy, state Attorney General Anne Lopez has initiated a review of decision-making before and during the fire. Governor Green also authorized a review of the emergency response.

Officials have cited factors contributing to the disaster, including communication failures, hurricane-driven wind gusts up to 130 km per hour, and a distant wildfire that complicated coordination with the emergency management agency.

The death toll now surpasses Hawaii’s worst natural disaster record – a 1960 tsunami that claimed 61 lives shortly after the state’s inclusion in the US. This toll also exceeds the 85 lives lost in a 2018 California fire and stands as the highest wildfire death toll since 1918.

In response to the tragedy, arrangements have been made for 1,000 hotel rooms to house those who lost their homes. Rental properties are also being allocated at no cost to affected families, and over 1,400 individuals have found shelter in emergency accommodations.

FEMA Director Deanne Criswell stated that the agency’s personnel on-site will be reinforced by additional search teams and dogs in the coming days to help in search and recovery efforts. KKL/Expat Media


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