Timeline of response to 2023 Lahaina wildfires

First responders showed up within minutes of the first reports to dispatch, on the huge wildfire last summer that nearly destroyed Lahaina, the historic Hawaiian town on the island of Maui. The first emergency calls came in to dispatch at 2:55 p.m. on August 8, according to the new report by the State Attorney General. Firefighters spotted smoke at 2:57 p.m., arrived at the fire at 3:00 p.m., and were joined by law enforcement who said the first building caught fire at 3:05 p.m.
The new report indicated that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a separate investigation underway into the origin and the cause of the fire.
MAUI fire progression map
Maui fire progression map

According to the REUTERS report, first responders battled a storm of embers sailing downslope ahead of unusually high winds. The fires destroyed most of Lahaina, the former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, killing over 100 people.

The Associated Press compiled numerous 911 calls that dispatchers on the island received the next day, and the dispatchers’ answers were the same each time; police and fire responders couldn’t help find missing people because they were still trying to get people to safety, still working hotspots and responding to fires.
FSRI Fire Progression Data Map Animation
The New York Times reported that fatalities from the Maui fires surpassed that of even the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California, and made the Maui fires the deadliest since the Cloquet inferno in Minnesota killed hundreds back in 1918.
The island’s officials were 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, and later encouraged tourists to come back to the island that depends heavily on visitors and tourism dollars. Hotels and other lodging options on Maui scrambled to shelter evacuees and the suddenly homeless; that struggle on the island is far from over.The state attorney general’s office has more maps online.

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5 thoughts on “Timeline of response to 2023 Lahaina wildfires”

  1. So I did go back and read the comments to his blog post on the subject. I think the best comment was the last one which said “This work absolutely requires peer reviewed publication” It would be great for him to do that.

    1. Thanks Doug, I re-worded that paragraph because I think there’s some merit to Cliff’s theory on this. I don’t believe he’s proven this to be the case, however, though he’s quite willing to promote it as the answer.

      Have you read the comments on that page of his?

      1. I haven’t read the comments on his page, but I will go back and take a look at them. My concern is that the weather event that occurred was way more complicated than Hurricane Dora caused the event. I did go back through the timeline in the report and the fire weather forecasts, watches, and warnings did make reference to the hurricane but I think the high pressure off the islands was more of a contributing factor and I think Cliff did a pretty good job explaining it. One item of note is that the fire weather folks pretty much nailed the wind event that occurred.


What do you think?