The death toll from wildfires on Maui is nearing 100 as teams continue to search through the rubble caused by the country’s deadliest wildfire in a century, destroying the historic town of Lahaina and causing what Gov. Josh Green estimates to be $6 billion in damage.
As the death toll in Hawaii reached 99 on Monday, the Hawaiian blaze solidified its position as the deadliest American wildfire in 105 years having surpassed the 2018 Camp Fire in California that caused $16.5 billion worth of damage and killed 85 people.
There are still around 1,300 people missing, Green said, down from over 2,000 as cell service is slowly restored.
Green, speaking to CBS on Monday, said “there are more fatalities that will come” and estimated search crews could find around “10 to 20 people per day probably until they finish.”
It could take 10 days for a full count of the blaze’s victims to be determined, Green said, adding that “we are prepared for many tragic stories.”
The Maui Police Department said residents and emergency responders will need an “access placard” to enter West Maui starting Tuesday to ensure “proper handling and identification of deceased individuals while maintaining the safety of the community and public safety personnel on the scene.”
Brush fires were first reported last week in West Maui and spread to Lahaina at a rate of one mile per minute, Green said, as strong winds from Hurricane Dora spurred the blaze and impeded firefighters by grounding helicopters and damaging roads. Green said Sunday the “fire hurricane” was spurred by the “very real” impacts of global warming, which contributed to the strong winds and a very dry season in Maui. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said none of the 80 outdoor warning sirens across Maui were activated amid the emergency, and county Fire Chief Bradford Ventura said emergency management officials didn’t have time to issue evacuation orders because the fire spread so quickly. Green on Sunday said officials are investigating whether enough was done to warn residents.
“Everything is burnt to the ground in Lahaina,” Green said Sunday.
25%. Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said police had searched about a quarter of the affected area, up from 3% over the weekend. Twenty cadaver dogs and dozens of searchers are involved in the operation.
A handful of the world’s richest people own land or homes on Maui, including Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Bluhm and Jensen Huang. Bezos’ fiancée Lauren Sánchez, vice chair of the Bezos Earth Fund, said the couple will establish a $100 million Maui Fund fund to help the island “back on its feet now and over the coming years.” Bezos was the world’s third-richest person as of Monday with a net worth of $161.8 billion. Winfrey, who has a net worth of $2.5 billion and owns more than 2,000 acres on Maui, has been handing out supplies. A spokesperson for software tycoon David Duffield, who has a net worth of $12.4 billion and owns two adjacent homes on Maui, said his foundation is “working with the Maui Humane Society to ease the suffering of Maui’s companion animals.” Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg (worth $106.1 billion) does not own property on Maui but does have thousands of acres on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. His wife, Priscilla Chan, said the couple donated an undisclosed amount to the Hawaii Community Foundation. Billionaire Bob Parsons’ Golf brand PXG announced Friday it donated $1 million to disaster relief organization Team Rubicon. Parsons, who has a net worth of $3.4 billion, has a home on the Big Island. Green’s office shared a link for donations to the Hawaii Community Foundation‘s “Maui Strong” fund.
Maui Wildfire Becomes Deadliest U.S. Blaze In Over A Century—Surpassing These Other Fires (Forbes)
What’s Causing Hawaii’s Deadly Wildfires—Experts Point To Flammable Grasses, Drought And Hurricane Winds (Forbes)
Hawaii Wildfires: At Least 67 Dead And Some Of Island’s Oldest Landmarks Destroyed (Forbes)
Jeff Bezos, Lauren Sánchez Announce $100 Million Fund For Maui Wildfire Relief (Forbes)