In a devastating turn of events, wildfires have wreaked havoc on the picturesque Hawaiian island of Maui, claiming the lives of at least six individuals. Maui Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. somberly confirmed the casualties during a press conference, revealing that the toll might rise as rescue efforts continue.
The fires surged through the historic coastal town of Lahaina, a revered settlement tracing its roots back to the 1700s and earning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, as reported by the Associated Press.
While the exact count of injuries remains unverified, approximately 20 people were rushed to Maui Memorial Medical Center, and an additional six were airlifted to Oahu by Hawaii Life Flight, a prominent air-ambulance company. Among the latter, three victims sustained critical burns and were subsequently transported to Straub Medical Center’s specialized burn unit.
Mayor Bissen’s press conference provided insight into the ongoing disaster. The fires, numbering three in total, have forced the evacuation of 13 neighborhoods, prompted the closure of 16 roads, and compelled the opening of five emergency shelters. Heartbreakingly, numerous residences, businesses, and structures have been reduced to ashes.
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Responding to the dire situation, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, acting on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, issued an emergency proclamation that enlisted the National Guard and authorized necessary emergency measures to tackle the wildfires in both Maui and Hawaiʻi Counties.
In a separate statement, Gov. Green expressed gratitude for the ongoing support received from local and national sources. He emphasized their constant communication with Lt. Gov. Luke and the White House to anticipate the need for federal assistance.
The governor anticipates submitting a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration within the coming 36 to 48 hours, pending a comprehensive assessment of the extent of damage incurred. The statement conveyed deep appreciation for the concern and prayers extended from across the nation.
Amid the unfolding disaster, Maui encountered the fierce winds brought by Hurricane Dora, categorized as a formidable level 4 storm. The National Weather Service reported that wind speeds are expected to gradually diminish as the hurricane tracks 500 miles south of Hawaii, bringing relief to the beleaguered island.