The historic Lahaina town in West Maui, Hawaii, has been nearly reduced to rubble as the wildfires send residents jumping into the harbor water to escape the fast-moving flames.
The emergency proclamation: Since Tuesday, the flames have ripped through the historic town, destroying homes and businesses and shutting down schools and roads. As an emergency proclamation was issued, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Hawaii National Guard were authorized to rescue people from the community and from the ocean by Lahaina. As of Wednesday morning, 12 people — all listed in stable condition — were rescued by the Coast Guard.
Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke also issued an emergency proclamation for Maui air travel, discouraging non-essential travel in order for the state to “prioritize scarce resources for Maui residents who desperately need assistance.”
Worst in 30 years: The wildfires have forced thousands to evacuate their homes during what is believed to be the worst natural disaster in Hawaii’s history since Hurricane Iniki in 1992. All the Hawaiian Islands are under a red flag warning through 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
“It’s just so hard. I can’t get a hold of any of my family members. I still don’t know where my little brother is. I don’t know where my stepdad is. Everyone I know in Lahaina, their homes have burned down,” Lahaina resident Tiare Lawrence, who compared the scene to an apocalypse, told Hawaii News Now.
“Loss of life is expected:” There were more than 14,000 power outages reported across Maui County and extended outages are to be expected. The full scope of the devastation and the number of deaths or injuries are not currently known. However, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said that “some loss of life is expected,” according to CNN.
“We have suffered a terrible disaster in the form of a wildfire that has spread widely as a result of hurricane-force winds in the region and underlying drought conditions. Maui and the Big Island both experienced significant fires. Much of Lāhainā on Maui has been destroyed and hundreds of local families have been displaced.”
Cause of the wildfires: Wildfires burned across Hawaii after dry conditions and strong winds passing through the state from Hurricane Dora, a Category 4 storm, ignited the blaze. The fire in Lahaina town is reportedly only one of at least seven other wildfires statewide that firefighters are battling against amid bad conditions.