A devastating wildfire, propelled by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora, has wreaked havoc on the Hawaiian island of Maui, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. The blaze, which started on Wednesday, has claimed at least 36 lives and obliterated parts of Lahaina, a town steeped in centuries of history.
The fire, fueled by the hurricane passing approximately 500 miles to the south, has caused widespread destruction. Maui County confirmed late Wednesday that the death toll had reached 36 amidst the still active fire in Lahaina. Further details were not immediately available.
Earlier reports indicated that 271 structures had been damaged or destroyed, with numerous people suffering injuries. The wildfire, intensified by the hurricane’s winds, has led to the destruction of several structures in various areas, including the historic town of Lahaina. This has prompted evacuations and school closures in several communities on Wednesday. Rescue teams have managed to save a dozen people from the smoke and flames.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported rescuing 14 individuals who had jumped into the water to evade the smoke and flames, including two children. The fire has spread extensively across Lahaina, affecting Front Street, a popular tourist spot. As firefighting crews continue to combat the blaze in various parts of the island, authorities have advised visitors to steer clear of the area.
FOX Weather predicts that the windy conditions will likely diminish as the pressure gradient between the high-pressure ridge and Hurricane Dora weakens in the coming days. Aerial footage of Lahaina reveals the extent of the damage, with dozens of homes and businesses, including those on Front Street, reduced to rubble. The fire has left a trail of destruction, with burned-out cars littering the streets and historic buildings turned into smoking debris.
Power outages have affected about 14,500 customers in Maui as of early Wednesday, with cell service and phone lines down in some areas. Residents have resorted to social media to connect with friends and family amidst the communication blackout.
Experts attribute the deadly wildfire to high winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation, but also point to climate change as a factor increasing the likelihood of such extreme weather events.