Hawaii Wildfires: Deadliest US Blaze in a Century Kills at Least 93 People

As the death toll from a wildfire that razed a historic Maui town climbed to 93, authorities warned that the effort to find and identify the dead was still in its early stages.

via: CBS News

Authorities said early Sunday, making it the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii since it became a state in 1959.

Two of the fatalities have been indentified, Maui County officials said.

Maui County officials said early Sunday that firefighting crews are continuing to extinguish flare-ups in the Lahaina and Upcountry Maui fires. In the Upcountry Maui fire, three structures in Olinda and 16 structures in Kula were destroyed. On Saturday, the Pulehu/K?hei fire was declared 100%, which indicates what percentage of the fire perimeter has been enclosed by a control line and reflects opportunities for the fire to spread beyond its original border into new areas.

A 1-acre fire reported Friday evening in Ka?anapali, near Lahaina, above Pu?ukoli?i has been extinguished.

The wildfires have become state’s deadliest natural disaster in decades, surpassing a 1960 tsunami that killed 61 people. An even deadlier tsunami in 1946, which killed more than 150 on the Big Island, prompted development of a territory-wide emergency alert system with sirens that are tested monthly.

Hawaii emergency management records do not indicate the warning sirens sounded before fire hit the town. Officials sent alerts to mobile phones, televisions and radio stations, but widespread power and cellular outages may have limited their reach.

The newly released figure also surpassed the toll of the 2018 Camp Fire in Northern California, which left 85 dead and destroyed the town of Paradise. A century earlier, the 1918 Cloquet Fire broke out in drought-stricken northern Minnesota and raced through a number of rural communities, destroying thousands of homes and killing hundreds.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said operations Saturday would focus on “the loss of life” as he toured the devastation on Lahaina’s beloved Front Street with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Lahaina fire was the most devastating and destructive of three large wildfires which erupted on the island Tuesday.

“It’s going to rise,” Green remarked Saturday on the death toll as he toured the devastation on historic Front Street. “It will certainly be the worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced…We can only wait and support those who are living. Our focus now is to reunite people when we can and get them housing and get them health care, and then turn to rebuilding.”

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