The governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, announced on Monday that the death toll from the devastating wildfires that swept across Maui last week has risen to 96, making it the deadliest fire disaster in the state’s history. Green expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and praised the efforts of the firefighters, emergency workers, and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to contain the blazes and assist the survivors.
The fires, which started on August 8, 2023, were fueled by a combination of dry conditions, low humidity, and strong winds from Hurricane Dora, a Category 4 storm that was passing south of the Hawaiian Islands. The fires quickly spread to several neighborhoods, including the historic town of Lahaina, where many buildings dating back to the 1700s were destroyed. Some residents had to jump into the ocean or the harbor to escape the flames and smoke.
According to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, more than 100,000 acres of land have been burned by the fires, which have also damaged or destroyed over 2,000 homes and businesses. The fires have also caused widespread power outages and road closures, hampering the evacuation and relief efforts. The state has opened five shelters for the displaced residents and tourists, and has requested federal assistance to cope with the disaster.
Green said that the fires are now 80% contained, thanks to the improved weather conditions and the arrival of additional firefighting resources from other states and countries. He also said that he has ordered an investigation into the cause of the fires, which remains unknown. He urged the public to remain vigilant and follow the instructions of the authorities.
“We are facing an unprecedented tragedy that has shaken our island community to its core. But we are also seeing an incredible display of resilience, solidarity, and aloha spirit among our people. We will overcome this challenge together and rebuild our paradise,” Green said in a press conference.