This was announced by Maui County Sheriff Richard Bisson on Wednesday. Rescue work is still going on. She added that the full extent of the damage had not yet been predicted. Hawaii Governor Josh Green spoke of a “terrible disaster”.
Acting US Pacific Governor Sylvia Locke declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. Locke told CNN news that evacuations are underway. She was initially unable to name a number of those affected. A White House spokesman said US President Joe Biden will monitor the fires.
The west coast of Maui, popular with tourists, was hit by flames. According to media reports, dozens of buildings were destroyed in the city of Lahaina. People even jumped into the sea to escape the flames.
The Coast Guard rescued people from the water
The US Coast Guard announced on Twitter (X) that they had rescued 12 people from the water. “People are jumping into the water to avoid the flames,” Coast Guard officer Kenneth Hara said on regional television. The Coast Guard is currently assisting.
Intense wildfires are raging in Hawaii
In Hawaii, the situation has come to a head due to strong wildfires and bushfires on the island of Maui. There are several active fires that have required urgent evacuations from multiple locations. A state of emergency has been declared in Maui and Hawaii. This will mobilize the Hawaii National Guard to assist responders in affected communities.
Acting Governor Locke told CNN that hundreds of acres of land had already been burned. Locke also said local hospitals were “overwhelmed with burn patients” and people who had inhaled smoke. “The truth is we have to get people out of Maui to treat their burns.” However, it is still not clear how many people were actually infected. Her office was unable to provide any details when asked by AFP.
Many homes are without electricity
In some cases, the emergency call failed in the affected areas. According to the Poweroutage.us website, more than 15,000 homes and businesses throughout Hawaii were without power. So far, the fires have had little impact on air traffic, according to data from Flightaware.com.
However, non-essential travel to Maui is discouraged, Hawaiian Airlines told CNN. Airlines such as Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines waive transportation fees for travel to and from Kahului Airport on Maui. According to what the airport posted on Twitter, about 1,800 passengers have found shelter at the airport so far.
“The fact that we have wildfires in multiple areas that are indirectly attributable to a hurricane is unprecedented. This is something Hawaiians and the state have never experienced before,” the Deputy Governor of Maui told CNN.
The fires in Hawaii are different from many fires in the western United States. They are more likely to break out in large grasslands on the dry sides of islands and are generally much smaller than mainland fires. However, fire can cause significant environmental damage: coral reefs can be damaged if a fire is followed by heavy rains, for example, during which loose soil is carried out to sea.
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