Hawaii is fatally hit by a fire that is historic for the USA
“We’ve counted 89 deaths,” said Green. “It’s going to keep going up. We want people to prepare for that.” Residents, still in shock, are just beginning to see the extent of the damage in Lahaina, virtually reduced to nothing by the force of the blaze.
This pretty seaside town of some 15,000 inhabitants, with its magnificent hotels and typical restaurants, is now almost completely destroyed. Fortunately, a one-hundred-year-old tree, an exceptional banyan fig, was saved from the flames. It now stands alone amidst the ruins. In this desolate landscape, residents are trying to understand how the tragedy could have reached such proportions. And the courts: an inquiry has been opened into the authorities’ handling of the crisis.
The death toll from these fires exceeds that of the 1960 tsunami, which killed 61 people on the island of Hawaii. And the archipelago has probably not finished counting its dead. Search and rescue teams, accompanied by dogs, have arrived in Maui to search for any bodies, according to the county.
The island resembles a lunar decor, and nearly 2,207 buildings, mostly residential, have been destroyed or damaged, according to the federal disaster response agency (Fema).
The fire was “incredibly devastating”, according to Jeremy Greenberg, a Fema official interviewed on MSNBC. “These types of fires can spread over a distance equivalent to an American soccer field in 20 seconds or less.” Firefighters had to battle multiple simultaneous blazes fuelled by high winds, themselves fuelled by the force of Hurricane Dora.