Deadly Maui wildfire in Hawaii claims six lives amid hurricane winds

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A devastating wildfire, intensified by the strong winds of a neighboring Pacific hurricane, has swept through the Hawaiian island of Maui, resulting in six confirmed deaths and numerous injuries. With over thousands forced to evacuate and essential services, including electricity and cell towers, rendered inoperative, the situation is dire.

Maui County Mayor Richard Missen announced the tragic fatalities, while also noting that at least 20 individuals, including a firefighter, have been injured in the inferno. Among these, three remain in a critical state. As the flames continued their destruction, there were harrowing accounts of individuals resorting to leaping into the Pacific Ocean to evade the fires, only to be subsequently rescued by the US Coast Guard.

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The catastrophe, which has left over 12,000 Hawaiians powerless according to PowerOutage.Us, saw numerous houses incinerated in western Maui. Witness reports have surfaced about individuals being trapped in vehicles, which authorities are urgently investigating.

Thousands evacuate as Maui wildfire burns, death toll expected to rise

Thousands evacuate as Maui wildfire burns, death toll expected to rise. Photo courtesy of Kevin Ellis from Pixabay.

Amid the chaos, Mayor Bissen reiterated, “Our main focus now is to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate property loss.” Given the ongoing search and rescue operations, officials fear the death toll might escalate. Transportation official Ed Sniffen highlighted the predicament of around 4,000 tourists attempting to leave western Maui. Despite road closures, the Maui airport remains fully operational, with airlines providing leniencies to evacuate people.

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Reacting to the calamity, US President Joe Biden immediately mobilized all federal assets in Hawaii. The National Weather Service’s Honolulu office attributed the wildfire’s ferocity to the strong winds of Hurricane Dora, coupled with low humidity and dry conditions. Local firefighting efforts have been hampered due to these winds.

The fire’s origins remain undetermined. However, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara of the Hawaii Army National Guard alluded to a prior warning, emphasizing the conditions of dry foliage and strong winds as the probable accelerants of the wildfire.

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