Tragedy In Paradise: Thousands Flee As Hawaii's Maui Island Faces One Of Deadliest US Wildfires

Zinger Key Points
  • Thousands of Hawaii residents fled homes on Maui as wildfires destroyed parts of Lahaina Town, killing at least 36 people.
  • Businesses such as Hawaiian Holdings, Hawaiian Electric Industries, and Bank of Hawaii are impacted by the disaster.

Thousands of residents in Hawaii have been forced to flee their homes as wildfires ravaged the island of Maui, destroying parts of Lahaina Town, a historic destination dating back to the 1700s. The fire, one of the deadliest in recent U.S. history, has claimed at least 36 lives and left a trail of destruction in its wake.

The Devastation: The fire caught the island by surprise, leaving behind charred cars and smoking rubble where historic buildings once stood. Crews battled the flames in several locations on Wednesday, and some residents were forced to escape into the ocean.

At least 271 structures were damaged or destroyed, and dozens were injured. The death toll may rise as the fires continue to burn, the Associated Press reports.

Escape And Evacuation: Residents described harrowing escapes under smoke-filled skies. Tourists were advised to stay away, and about 11,000 visitors flew out of Maui on Wednesday, with at least another 1,500 expected to leave on Thursday, according to the AP.

The Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu has been readied to accommodate the thousands of individuals displaced by the wildfires. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. expressed grief and resilience, stating that the island had "been tested like never before in our lifetime."

Also Read: US-China Tensions Still Too Hot For Climate Agreement, As US Climate Envoy John Kerry Returns Home Without A Deal

Climate Change And Wildfires: The fires were fueled by strong winds from Hurricane Dora, and experts said that climate change is increasing the likelihood of such events. Wildfires in Hawaii are generally smaller than mainland fires, but a major fire on the Big Island in 2021 burned homes and forced thousands to evacuate. The Big Island is also currently experiencing blazes.

Scope Of Destruction: As winds eased on Maui, aerial footage revealed the full extent of the devastation. Dozens of homes and businesses were razed, including on Front Street, a popular tourist spot. The destruction was described as "horrifying" by a local helicopter pilot. Search-and-rescue teams are working to find survivors, and officials are prepared for the possibility of additional deaths.

Response And Recovery: Early Wednesday, approximately 14,500 customers in Maui experienced power outages, with ongoing efforts to reestablish communication and provide water. In a daring rescue, the Coast Guard saved 14 individuals, including two children, who had leaped into the water to evade the encroaching flames. Three people with critical burns were flown to Oahu.

President Joe Biden ordered all available federal assets to assist and the Hawaii National Guard was mobilized for fire suppression and search-and-rescue efforts.

Impact On Businesses: The situation has not only been devastating to local residents but has also impacted companies like Hawaiian Holdings Inc. HA, Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. HE, and Bank of Hawaii Corporation BOH, reflecting the widespread economic consequences of the disaster.

IF YOU WANT TO HELP, click on this website that has a list of groups and individuals who will accept aid in Hawaii.

Now Read: Bernie Sanders Warns That This Year 'Is Set To Be The Hottest In History' And Congress 'Must Act Now' To Address Climate Change — 3 Green Stocks Lead The Charge

This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Photo: Shutterstock

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