At least 36 people have died on the Hawaiian island of Maui as unprecedented wind-driven wildfires forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Hospitals have been overwhelmed with burn patients. Some people had to run into the ocean to escape the flames. Much of the town of Lahaina has burned to the ground. Lahaina was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Residents described horrific scenes of destruction.
Mason Jarvi: “I’m a resident of Lahaina for about 18 years, and we just had the worst disaster I’ve ever seen. All Lahaina is burnt to a crisp. And it’s — it’s like an apocalypse.”
The fires began on Tuesday and rapidly spread as wind from Hurricane Dora and dry conditions fueled the blaze. This is Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke.
Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke: “You know, the point is, a lot of residents in the state of Hawaii, when we are preparing for the hurricane, we expect rain. Sometimes we expect floods. We never anticipated in this state that a hurricane which did not make impact on our islands will cause this type of wildfires, wildfires that wiped out communities, wildfires that wiped out businesses, wildfires that destroyed homes.”