Paradise lost: Will Maui ever recover from its most deadly disaster in 60 years?
In a shocking twist of nature’s fury, Maui has become a blazing hellscape with the death toll catapulting to 53 and over 1,000 structures reduced to ashes. The crown jewel of the disaster, Lahaina, known for luring a staggering 80% of the island’s tourists, has seen 270 of its structures obliterated or severely damaged. As the wildfire engulfs more territory, officials hinted that about 80% of it has been successfully contained.
Officials recounted the grim update, stating that just on Thursday, the death toll saw a spike with 17 fatalities in the active Lahaina fire zone. Hawaii’s Governor Josh Green, while deeply saddened, anticipates the number of victims to mount as rescue operations intensify. Historical records are close to being shattered, as this wildfire, which was ignited on Tuesday, is inches away from surpassing the tragic 1961 tsunami in the Big Island that claimed 61 lives.
Hurricane Dora’s gusty winds, swooping in from hundreds of miles south in the Pacific Ocean, have been fueling the flames since August 8, when the west coast of Maui first felt the wrath. These adverse conditions have left some island residents with no option but to seek refuge in the ocean waters.
From the nation’s capital, President Joe Biden has stepped in, marking the Hawaii wildfires as a monumental disaster and greenlighting federal funds to aid the beleaguered Maui. The White House recounted Biden’s heartfelt conversation with Governor Green, wherein the president conveyed his profound condolences over the immense loss of lives and infrastructure.
With the entire island under a state of emergency, officials have urged the public to refrain from non-essential travel to this once-beloved vacation haven. As investigations continue, the root cause of the fire remains a mystery.