The New York Times reported today that fatalities resulting from the Maui fires have surpassed that of the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California, and now mark the deadliest wildfire since the 1918 Cloquet inferno in Minnesota killed hundreds of people.
The island’s fatality count has already hit 93, according to an AP report earlier today, and both locals and experts are pleading with tourists from the U.S. mainland and elsewhere to cancel vacation plans and spare locals and emergency responders the drain on scarce resources. Hotels and other lodging options on Maui are scrambling to shelter evahttps://youtu.be/OlV6sObu_Y0cuees and the suddenly homeless; well over 45,000 residents and visitors have departed Kahului Airport in West Maui since Wednesday.
Mayor Richard Bissen recorded a public message, and the Maui County website is loaded with additional resources. A Family Assistance Center is open at Kahului Community Center at 275 Uhu Street.
“The collective resources and attention of the federal, state, and county government, the West Maui community, and the travel industry must be focused on the recovery of residents who were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses,” announced the Hawaii Tourism Authority today. Visitors are encouraged to change plans and travel to Hawaii’s other islands.
Gov. Josh Green said 500 hotels rooms will be set aside for evacuated locals, and the state is working with AirBNB to make more rentals available for locals. Another 500 hotel rooms will be reserved for FEMA employees; no word on whether interagency IMTs from the U.S. will be able to camp in tents as usual.
Recovery crews with cadaver dogs have covered just under 5 percent of the fires’ search area thus far, according to Maui Police Chief John Pelletier. “We’ve got an area that we have to contain that is at least 5 square miles, and it is full of our loved ones,” he said. He asked residents with missing loved ones to provide DNA samples at a county resource center.
Hawaii News Now reported that Gov. Green said this will certainly be the worst natural disaster Hawaii has ever faced. “I hurt to imagine the fear that went through people when a fire — really a hurricane and a fire — came through all at once,” he said. Their news conference is available online: youtube.com/watch?v=zm_xx5peLJQ