911 calls: the stranded and missing in Maui’s wildfires

“The flames came back … they’re in the trees and the grass.”

“We slept on the street.”

“We’re dying out here.”

The Associated Press has compiled numerous 911 calls from the barrage that Maui operators received the day after wildfires swept through Lahaina. The operator answers were the same each time; emergency responders weren’t able to help find missing people because they were still trying to get people to safety, still working hotspots and responding to fires.

Maui fires, NASA image
Maui fires, NASA image

The 911 recordings from the morning and early afternoon of August 9, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, were the third batch of calls released by the Maui Police Department in response to a public records request. The recordings demonstrate that dispatchers and first responders were limited by diminished staffing and communications failures.

Some callers ask where their family members are, some report disastrous fire damage, and others plead with dispatch  to tell them where to go to be safe. People were trapped in their homes or hotel rooms, many with no food or water. With each desperate call, operators had relatively the same response: they had no answers.

Read the full story here.

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