Hawaii wildfires: At least six people dead after wildfires destroy large parts of town in Maui | World News
At least six people have died after wildfires rampaged through parts of the Hawaiian island of Maui, officials have said.
Three fires, fuelled by the wind, have swept across the town of Lahaina, West Maui, leading to 13 evacuations, mayor Richard Bissen Jr said.
“Our main focus now is to save lives,” Mr Bissen said.
It comes after three residents were left with critical burns after being forced to jump into the ocean, as wildfires affected the popular shopping and dining area known as Font Street.
Posting on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday, the Coast Guard said 12 people had been rescued from the water off Lahaina.
The Coast Guard responded to areas where people had fled into the ocean to escape the fire and smoky conditions, the county said in a statement on Tuesday.
The governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, said on Wednesday that “loss of life is expected”.
“We have suffered a terrible disaster in the form of a wildfire that has spread widely as a result of hurricane-force winds in the region and underlying drought conditions,” he said.
“Maui and the Big Island both experienced significant fires. Much of Lahaina on Maui has been destroyed and hundreds of local families have been displaced.”
At least 20 other patients were taken to Maui Memorial Medical Centre on Tuesday, Speedy Bailey, regional director for air-ambulance company Hawaii Life Flight, said.
Footage posted overnight showed flames affecting numerous buildings in the historic town centre that dates back to the 1700s, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Some blocks of buildings were completely reduced to ash.
“Do NOT go to Lahaina Town,” was posted online by the county, hours before all roads in and out of West Maui’s biggest community were closed to everyone except emergency personnel.
An evacuation shelter was also put in place to avoid people adding to the traffic.
Kahului Airport, the main airport in Maui, was sheltering 2,000 passengers who had their flights either cancelled or had only recently arrived at the island, the county said.
The National Weather Service said Hurricane Dora, which was passing to the south of the island chain, was partly to blame for gusts above 60mph (97kph).
The wind knocked out the power, rattled homes and grounded firefighting helicopters. Flights resumed on Wednesday as the strong winds somewhat diminished.