At least 53 people have died in the devastating wildfire on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Thursday, with authorities saying the death toll is expected to rise further. The inferno razed Lahaina, the resort town, to the ground – the worst natural disaster in the island state’s history.
The wildfire started on Tuesday, spread fast from the bush outside of town and consumed everything in its path, destroying the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina. Officials said the wildfires were driven by strong winds from a hurricane passing far to the south of the island chain, which raced through the capital and other parts of Lahaina on Tuesday night. This is said to be the deadliest fire since the 2018 Camp Fire in California.
Governor Josh Green said thousands of people have been left homeless. He compared it to a bomb blast, the entire town has to be rebuilt taking many years and billions of dollars. Green said the landmarks have been charred beyond recognition; the historic Lahaina flyover, which was a vibrant vision of color, has been reduced to gray ash. What remains is only blackened foundations and rubble.
“Lahaina, with a few rare exceptions, has been burned down. More than 1,000 structures were destroyed by fires that were still burning,” Green told a news conference. “We are heartsick. It’s going to take many years to rebuild Lahaina. It will be a new Lahaina that Maui builds in its own image with its own values.”
Adam Weintraub, a spokesperson for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said they are still in life preservation mode, with search and rescue being a primary concern. He said search and rescue teams still won’t be able to reach certain areas until the fire lines are secure and access is safe. According to the agency, there are six fires blazing in Maui and the Big Island as of August 10.
Meanwhile, Hollywood stars Jason Momoa, Carlos PenaVega, Alexa PenaVega and Olivia Wilde are trying to help the people of Hawaii. The Aquaman actor, who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, took to Instagram to share the loss. “We are devastated and heartbroken for our friends and o’hana on Maui who have been impacted by the recent wildfires.”
Carlos and wife Alexa Penavega, who relocated to Maui from Los Angeles in 2017, said many of their friends and family members have lost their homes. “It’s been really hard watching it from the side. From what we’ve been hearing from the people on the ground, whatever you’re seeing in photos and pictures don’t compare to what’s happening.”
The coup will head to Hawaii in the next few days to help rebuild. Carlos said he doesn’t even know if their house still exists. “Honestly, it doesn’t even matter. I am so focused on the people of Maui, especially Lahaina because it’s gone.”