Wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui burned out of control for much of this past week reducing much of the historic town to ash. At least 89 people died and dozens were injured. People opted to jump into the ocean to flee the flames. Officials fear that the death toll could rise.
As winds diminished, aircraft resumed their flights enabling reporters and pilots to see the scope of damage and devastation. The US Civil Air Patrol and Maui Fire Department recorded the extent of the loss. Aerial videos and photos showed dozens of flattened businesses and homes. Some of the historic Front Street district, a favorite tourist destination to dine and shop, was destroyed.
The officials confirmed that they do not know the exact number of people missing and dead in Lahaina and surrounding areas. As a result of the extent of the fires, the recovery process could take several days or weeks.
Maui County Fire Chief, Brad Ventura, confirmed that the wildfires in Lahaina were 80% contained by Thursday and 100% contained by Friday. However, Hawaii Governor, Josh Green said that the damage caused was in the billions of dollars. On Thursday, United States President, Joe Biden, approved a major disaster declaration. Biden ordered additional federal aid to help Maui and other areas affected by the wildfires. Governor Green said the additional aid will help provide FEMA grants and rental assistance to small businesses and affected people.
Some airlines came to the aid on Thursday. United canceled their flights so that the empty planes could be used to help visitors and tourists get home. Alaska Airlines confirmed that they are sending rescue flights to offer additional aid. Maui County officials have asked tourists and visitors to leave so that they can focus on how they can handle the crisis. With the current death toll, the Maui wildfire is now considered one of the deadliest in the last 10 years.