At least 36 people have died in raging Hawaii wildfires

“It's like an apocalypse,” said a local resident.
Sejal Sharma
Flames and smoke from the Hawaii wildfire
Flames and smoke from the Hawaii wildfire


Devastating wildfires have engulfed the US state of Hawaii, resulting in 36 confirmed deaths and hundreds injured, some critically.

The wildfires, pushed by winds from Hurricane Dora, have destroyed communities in Maui County, including the historic town of Lahaina, which was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Evacuations and rescue ops underway

Helicopter pilot Richard Olsten who flew over Lahaina, said, “It’s like an area was bombed. It’s like a war zone.”

Almost all of the people living in Lahaina have been evacuated. Some of Lahaina’s iconic and historic landmarks – Pioneer Inn and the famous banyan tree – have been burned down, according to a report by Hawaii News Now.

Hospitals are overwhelmed with burn victims and patients with smoke inhalation. Lahaina has been hit the hardest and access to the area has been blocked off.

Rescue operations are on in what is being described as the deadliest disaster in the state. At least 271 structures have been damaged or destroyed by flames. According to the Associated Press, people have evacuated the areas largely affected by the wildfires, leading many to flee near the ocean, where they were rescued by the Coast Guard.

No full picture yet

The blaze, which began Tuesday morning, is still out of control. According to earlier reports, some people jumped into the ocean to escape the fire but were later rescued by the US Coast Guard.

About 2,000 displaced people trapped by the wildfires are looking for shelter, as per a report. Both locals and visitors are shifting to emergency shelters while many are sleeping in their cars, including at a Walmart that opened its bathrooms to evacuees. 

The American Red Cross of Hawaii has put out a call for volunteers. ”We are really stretched thin,” said Red Cross CEO Diane Peters-Nguyen, as per a report by ​​Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green said that the damage from the wildfires is estimated to run in billions. 

Even though Hurricane Dora did not make landfall in Hawaii, strong high-pressure winds of above 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour) have made it hard to control the fires.

“I have ordered all available Federal assets on the Islands to help with response,” said a statement from US President Joe Biden. “We are grateful to the brave firefighters and first responders who continue to run toward danger, putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives.”

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