Lahaina Fire: Deadliest in U.S. Modern History

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19 Aug 2023 2:00 PM

It has been just over one week since the deadly fires in Hawaii broke out (8/8). Thousands are still missing on the island of Maui as cleanup and recovery efforts continue. Of the major fires on the island of Maui (Upcountry, Lahaina, Pulehu and Pu'ukoli'i), the Lahaina fire was the most devastating, claiming the lives of over 100 people. Sadly, this makes the Lahaina fire the deadliest U.S. fire in over a century, surpassing the Camp Fire of 2018 which claimed the lives of 85 people in Paradise, CA near Chico.

For more on the Tropics forecast and potential NEW impacts to Hawaii - click here.

For those trying to locate their loved ones, Maui County has opened a center at 275 Uhu St. Families can also call the American Red Cross hotline at 1-800-733-2767.

The latest fire numbers (as of Thursday evening). A reminder that containment means the perimeter of the fire, not the percent of the fire that is "out". A fire can be 100% contained but still have active flames within that perimeter.

  • County fire investigators have concluded that the Kula and Olinda fires have distinct origins. As of today, 8/17, data for these fires will be reported separately. As mapping is refined in coming days, estimated fire acreage may be adjusted. Tonight, a drone with infrared capabilities will be looking for hot spots among the Upcountry fires.

  • Olinda fire (initially reported 8/8): Now 85% contained. Estimated 1,081 acres. There are no active threats at this time. State Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife is monitoring.

  • Kula fire (initially reported 8/8): Now 80% contained. Estimated 202 acres. There are no active threats at this time. Three Maui Fire Department and two DOFAW crews were onsite today.

  • Lahaina fire (initially reported 8/8): Now 90% contained. Estimated 2,168 acres. There are no active threats at this time. MFD and United States Army Reserve were onsite today.

  • Pulehu / Kihei fire (initially reported 8/8): Remains 100% contained. A flareup occurred inside the burn area around 5:15 p.m. but Engine 10, Tanker 10 and Air One extinguished the flareup. The Pulehu/Kihei fire was declared 100% contained 8/12. There are no active threats at this time.

WeatherNation field correspondent Jonathan Petramala and Brandon Clement have been documenting this evolving story from the island of Maui and tells us the fires have calmed down on the island, but resources and recovery is slow to the island state. People, including children, jumped into the waters to avoid the flames, battling strong currents for hours to stay alive.

This event was fueled by intense wind, dry weather conditions, and an ongoing drought. The cause of the fire has not been released but there was no lightning on the day of the fires, meaning they were somehow human caused. The cause for the strong winds was in part due to Major Hurricane Dora passing south of the islands, kicking up surf and wind.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

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