The terrifying scenes of yesterday’s wildfire in Lahaina, Maui that have left 36 dead, dozens injured and hundreds still missing, are now becoming clear.
At daybreak, shocking images reveal the true devastation of the remote town that was entirely torched in the blink of an eye.
Several questions remain unanswered and at the forefront is the cause of the fire. Local officials are still searching for clues and the cause of the blaze which spread rapidly and toppled homes as it was fanned by fierce winds from passing Hurricane Dora.
Tragically, 271 structures were damaged and destroyed and dozens of people were injured when trying to flee the fast-moving flames.
Adam Weintraub, a spokesperson for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said the primary concern remains the search and rescue operation, which he says can’t fully begin until fire lines are secure.
“We are still in life preservation mode. Search and rescue is still a primary concern,” said Weintraub.
He added, “What we have here is a natural disaster. There may have been questions that need to be examined about whether it was handled in the right way. But we still got people in danger. We still have people who don’t have homes. We still have people who can’t find their loved ones.”
In the hope to locate those missing, desperate relatives have been filling out a Google document of their loved ones’ whereabouts while President Biden declared a major disaster in the state of Hawaii and released emergency funds for local officials.
The local hospitals and Red Cross have urged desperate relatives to reach out in search for their missing family members.
With communications down due to the level of destruction, officials are now working on evacuating stranded tourists to another island while thousands try to escape the island from the open Kahului airport.
The horror stories increase by the minute, with parents who jumped into the water from the harbor with their children, and those who escaped their homes with seconds to spare to name a few.
Only adding to the tragedy is the growing concern of where the few of the island’s wealthiest landowners are and what they intend to do to help.
Maui residents were quick to note those whose beachfront sanctuaries went unscathed. These included Oprah Winfrey who owns nearly 2000 acres of land in the affected area, Jeff Bezos whose fiancée Lauren Sanchez posted on Instagram the fires were ‘breaking her heart’, Larry Ellison, Clint Eastwood, and Steven Tyler, all of whom call Maui home.
“We got to this side of the island at midnight last night, with my wife and dog, we slept in a parking lot at Whole Foods. We woke up and got on our phones to pictures of our house down to the slab. Nothing but smoke and cinders. We have the clothes we got on, a dog, and two kids. And here we are,” recalled one local.
While the state of Hawaii is in the midst of relief and recovery, there is a heavy heart knowing the devastating effect the fire has had on the people of Lahaina and indeed the whole nation.