Live Updates: Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina (2024)

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1 min ago

Travelers scramble in Hawaii amid raging wildfires

From CNN's Marnie HunterandForrest Brown

Devastating wildfires in the Hawaiian Islands – coupled with vast communication gaps created by the interruption of services – have left many travelers in limbo as they struggle to leave the especially hard-hit island of Maui or reschedule imminent travel plans.

State officials were working with hotels and a local airline to try to evacuate tourists in Maui to another island, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke told CNN on Wednesday morning. But severed communications have hobbled efforts to reach everyone.

Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG) is open, the Hawaii Department of Transportation posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The HDOT urged patience at the airport. and also provided detailson reaching the airport via a bypass.

Nonessential inbound travel to Maui is strongly discouraged, Ed Sniffen, director of the Hawaii State Department of Transportation, said Wednesday at a news conference.

Travel adviser Jim Bendt said Pique Travel Design is advising clients traveling to Maui in the next week to reschedule their trips to “help ease the burden on local infrastructure.”

Pique Travel will be working with its partners on the island to waive or minimize cancellation and change fees, he said.

Hawaiian Airlines,Alaska Airlines,American Airlines,Delta Air Lines,Southwest AirlinesandUnited Airlinesall are offering travel waivers for travel to Maui allowing passengers to change plans without penalty.

“Guests with non-urgent travel inquiries are encouraged to call back later so that we can assist those with immediate needs,” Hawaiian Airlines posted on social platform X. The airline urged travelers to check their flight status before going to the airport.

Bendt said travelers with plans to visit islands other than Maui won’t need to change their plans.

“Hotels and tours are operating as normal,” he said.

As for what's next for travel to Maui, it's a wait-and-see situation.

“Natural disasters are, by nature, quick-moving. If you have a trip to Maui a fewweeks from now, your best bet, for now, is to wait and see if the fires get contained,” said Scott Keyes, founder of travel

Keyes said that “there’s no added benefit to canceling a trip a few weeks in advance versus a few days in advance.”

Read more:

9 min ago

Hawaiian Electric crews working to restore power to at least 12,400 customers in West Maui and others

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

Crews with Hawaiian Electric are asking people to be patient as crews work to restore power to residents affected in West Maui and Upcountry.

"We are all hands on deck in supporting and responding to Maui communities affected by the outages, active wildfires, and sustained high wind damage," spokesperson Shayna Decken said in a statement Wednesday. "Our focus right now is the safety of our communities, customers, and workforce and prioritizing power restoration to areas that our crews can safely access."

Approximately 12,400 customers remain in the dark in West Maui and crews are assessing the damage from the wildfire and working to repair multiple downed poles and power lines in various areas.

Additional help is coming in from Oahu to assist with the “massive restoration efforts.”

7 min ago

Devastating Maui wildfires rage, leaving a path of destruction. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Live Updates: Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina (1)

At least six people have been killed by wildfires in Hawaii, according to Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen Jr.

Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing, he said, warning that the number of people killed could go up as more information becomes available.

At least six other people were injured, Bissen said. Three of those were burn-related, he said. A firefighter was also taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Many structures have been destroyed, several of them burnt "to the ground," Bissen said.

It is impossible to know the extent of the damage caused by wildfires in Hawaii because the flames continue to make their way across parts of the Big Island and Maui, Bissen said.

The main focus of officials and first responders is to “save lives and preserve lives,” he said. The secondary focus is to try to save property —both objectives, fire departments are working very hard to do. They are working 24-hour shifts battling the blazes, he said.

As of this morning, most of the fires on Maui are not yet contained, Bissen said.

Here are the latest developments:

  • More than 2,000 people in shelters with several unaccounted for: "We have over 2,100 people in shelters. Within those shelters, Imentioned to you — and several thatare unaccounted for in the sensethat they are in their cars and did not come into the actualshelter," Bissen said.
  • Officials discourage nonessential travel to Maui: Nonessential travel to Maui is strongly discouraged as unprecedented wildfires affect the area, according to Ed Sniffen, director of the Hawaii State Department of Transportation. Approximately 2,000 people stayed overnight at the airport in Maui, Sniffen said Wednesday at a news conference. He noted that another 4,000 visitors want to leave the island from the west side. "Today we signed anotheremergency proclamation which will discourage tourists fromgoing to Maui," Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said. "Even as of thismorning, planes were landing onMaui with tourists.This is not a safe place to be."

Live Updates: Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina (2)

  • Thousands are without cell service: Thousands of people in Maui, Hawaii, are without cell service as thewildfirescontinue torage out of controlon the island, preventing people from calling emergency services or updating loved ones about their status, according to authorities. It could take days or even weeks to get the networks back up and running. "911 is down. Cell service is down. Phone service is down," Luke told CNN on Wednesday morning.
  • Hot and dry winds "set the conditions for the wildfires," official says: While officials have not begun investigating the cause of the fires in Maui, the area had been under fire risk, according to Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, the Adjutant General for the State of Hawaii, Department of Defense. The National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning, which means warm temperatures, low humidity, strong winds and increased fire danger, according to the weather agency."That set the conditions for the wildfires," Hara said
  • Here's how you can help Hawaii wildfire victims: Clickhereto support relief efforts. Impact Your World will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates with more ways to help.
25 min ago

Biden expresses condolences and details federal support for Hawaii wildfires

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Live Updates: Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina (3)

President Joe Biden shared his condolences and detailed ongoing federal support efforts for Hawaiians amid raging wildfires that have killed at least six people and have prompted thousands of residents to shelter.

“Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the wildfires in Maui, and our prayers are with those who have seen their homes, businesses, and communities destroyed," Biden said in a statement Wednesday."We are grateful to the brave firefighters and first responders who continue to run toward danger, putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives.”

Biden said he has ordered federal assets to assist with wildfire response, pointing to the Hawaiian National Guard that's mobilizing Chinook helicopters “to help with fire suppression and search and rescue on the Island of Maui” as well as response and rescue from the US Coast Guard and Navy fleets. Marines, he added, “are providing Black Hawk Helicopters to fight the fires on the Big Island.”

And as local officials are discouraging nonessential travel to Maui, Biden noted “the Department of Transportation is working with commercial airlines to evacuate tourists from Maui, and the Department of the Interior and the United States Department of Agriculture stand ready to support post fire recovery efforts.”

Biden urged residents to “follow evacuation orders, listen to the instructions of first responders and officials, and stay alert.”

The president has not yet issued a disaster declaration.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said earlier Wednesday he expects to submit a request for a presidential disaster declaration “in the next 36 to 48 hours.” Green said the White House “has been incredibly supportive.”

38 min ago

"We are just so heartbroken anddevastated," lieutenant governor says on deadly wildfires

Live Updates: Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina (4)

Wildfires in Maui are devastating, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said.

"It's been so shocking anddevastating.Not just for Maui, but theentire Hawaii community," Luke said.

She noted that so far six lives have been lost and "this is just the beginning, initial assessment."

Officials are still assessing property damage and other potential losses she said.

Luke noted that power outages, loss of cell service and overall disruptions hindered search and rescue efforts.

"The wildfires were exacerbated by the gusts ofwinds that reached anywherebetween 70 to 80 miles perhour.So quickly, these flames reachedother neighborhoods.They jumped highways and freeways and destroyed people's homes," she said

Cell services were impacted and calls to 911 were disrupted, she said.

"People couldn't call 911.The only people who could makecalls were individuals withsatellite service," Luke said.

Luke also talked about the difficulties of being an island state, which impacted response time.

"We can't just drive tothe next island, next town and assist," she said. Luke added that because of the high winds, it was difficult to fly out support. "We couldn't fly them from oneisland to the next and that impeded and that led toeven more slower response," she said.

Luke said that officials will take a closer look at that issue. "The fact thatpeople's lives were lost.Properties were lost.I mean people's homes were damaged.You know, this is just a terrible day."

42 min ago

Multiple fires continue to burn on Big Island in Hawaii County

From CNN’s Sara Smart and Joe Sutton

Crews are working to maintain multiple brushfires taking place in Hawaii County on the Big Island.

The Akoni Pule Highway fire is about 60% contained as of Wednesday morning local time, according to anupdate from the Hawai’i Fire Department. It continues to remain a threat to structures in the area.

Guests are sheltered in place at the Mauna Kea Resort, the department says, as multiple more fires burn on the Mauna Kea Beach area. Crews are on scene to assist and are working to contain the fires.

Emergency officials in California are monitoring the situation and are in contact with emergency personnel in the state as well.

Hawaii County is located on the Big Island and is separate from the fire that is burning in Maui, which is also still burning.

1 hr 31 min ago

“We have no more Lahaina." Couple who lost their home to fire 5 years ago are forced to evacuate again

From CNN’s Macie Goldfarb

Mark and Maureen Stefl moved to Maui almost 24 years ago after falling in love with the island while on a vacation.

Now they have been uprooted for the second time in five years by wildfires.

“We have no more Lahaina. It’s gone,” Mark Stefl told CNN on Wednesday.

Five years ago, the couple’s home was burnt to the ground by a quick-moving fire fanned by winds associated with Hurricane Lane. This time, based on television footage they've seen, the two-story yellow house they rebuilt may be the only one standing in their neighborhood.

Stefl said they evacuated with two of their four pets to a friend’s house. They had no choice but to leave behind their other cat and dog, he said.

About a quarter of a mile from their house, a neighbor started up a generator after many residents had lost power due to strong winds fanned by Hurricane Dora. That generator caught fire, he said, and was put out by firefighters before the fire kicked back up again.

His wife was worried. He told her, “Relax, it’s gonna be OK" — but before he knew it, the fire was about 25 yards from his house.

Stefl and his wife grabbed the two animals and pulled out of their garage in a cloud of black smoke as the wind howled around them. They saw flames on both sides of the house. He said they thought they were going to die.

“I’m literally thankful just to be alive right now,” Stefl said.

1 hr 43 min ago

Climate change among reasons Hawaii fire could have spread so quickly, scientist says

From CNN’s Rachel Ramirez

The wildfires that ripped through Hawaii on Tuesday and Wednesday are “unnerving,” and comparable to the landscape-altering wildfires that are common in the West, said Erica Fleishman, director of the OregonClimateChange Research Institute at Oregon State University.

But Fleishman told CNN she wouldn’t be surprised “if wildfires in many parts of the world that are not accustomed to them become more common over time, or become larger or spread more rapidly.”

That’s because the human-causedclimatecrisis has exacerbated the hot and dry conditions that allow wildfires to ignite and grow in many parts of the planet.

Although she said it’s hard to say that theclimatecrisis is linked to this particular event without a thorough analysis, it is possible to break down the conditions that primed the environment for these wildfires to occur.

“We can say there are conditions that are consistent with wildfire, wildfire size and expansion that are changing asclimatechanges,” she said. “And some of the things that we're seeing with this wildfire in Maui are consistent with some of the trends that are known and projected asclimatechanges.”

Temperatures are increasing worldwide, including in Hawaii, whiledroughtis getting more intense and lasting longer. As a result, Fleishman said the availability of water has not only decreased for people, but also plants that require more water to thrive.

And in parts of Hawaii, there have been drastic changes in plant species.

A2018 reportfrom the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization found that humans have introduced nonnative, fire-prone grasses and shrubs to the islands, which has allowed wildfire threat to increase exponentially. Nonnative species, which are critical fire ignitions, now cover nearly a quarter of Hawaii’s total land area.

Wind patterns are another contributing factor that may have some fingerprints ofclimatechange, Fleishman said. High winds, such as the ones that helped fan the flames in Maui, are more likely going to dry out vegetation, air and soil, which could spark wildfires.

“When those strong winds hit, if you already have the heat and the dryness and if you have a spark, a wildfire becomes more likely to grow rapidly,” she added.

While it is uncommon for fires this size to ignite in places like Hawaii, Fleishman said she is hopeful that these places will have some time to prepare for a hotter and drier future that is prime for far more intense wildfires.

1 hr 49 min ago

"It is absolutely tragic, devastating." Head of helicopter tour business says co-workers lost their homes

From CNN's Raja Razek

The president of a Hawaiian helicopter company said several of his co-workers lost their homes and other partners lost their businesses in the wildfires moving over several parts of the islands.

"It is absolutely tragic, devastating," said Quentin Koch, the president of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. "Tears just keep pouring and pouring from people's faces as we kind of work through the morning and all wake up and realize what we have in front of us," he added.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters canceled its tourism operations and are now partnering with the state and are "focusing and taking care of the people that at need." Koch said helicopters have the unique ability to land in different places like golf courses or smaller airports.

Speaking of the devastation, Koch said, "Seeing it from the air and seeing the pictures just doesn't do it justice."

He noted that not being able to get a hold of some of his co-workers has been difficult, and "you can't stop thinking about it."

"We actually have a friend that's a runner, has gone through in the areas that you are able to access, gone and knock on doors and got verification that people are OK, but the fires are still going, the winds are still there," he said. Officials and other residents have said there is still no service in many places, leaving people to find things out by word of mouth.

"The road from the airport, the main airport in is just a two-lane road that has been closed and so there is limited access in and out, limited cell coverage, no internet, they haven't had power in 24 hours, so it is just really hard and it is going to take probably days before we know everybody is okay," Koch said.
Live Updates: Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina (2024)


Is Lahaina fire contained? ›

Lahaina fire (initially reported 8/8): 85% contained. Estimated 2,170 acres. Multiple fire crews are assigned to monitor and address any flareups. There are no active threats at this time.

How many homes burned in Lahaina? ›

County names two victims: Robert Dyckman, 74, and Buddy Jantoc, 79, both of Lahaina, were killed, Maui County officials said Tuesday. Names of other victims have been released by families. Homes lost: More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fires – about 86% of them residential, Green has said.

What caused Lahaina Maui fire? ›

Maui's first reported fire likely caused by power lines, data shows - The Washington Post.

Has the Maui fire been contained? ›

9 a.m.: The brush fire in Lahaina is declared “100% contained” shortly before 9 a.m., according to the Maui officials.

How many are still missing in Lahaina? ›

Along with the 106 bodies already recovered, Green estimated Monday that about 1,300 people remain unaccounted for. According to 2020 census data, the Lahaina community had a population of about 12,700. Maui's overall population was at about 165,000.

What time does the Lahaina fire start? ›

6:37 a.m. About 20 miles away, this time on the western side of Maui's western volcano, another fire starts near Lahaina Intermediate School on the town's northeastern edge, at its highest elevations. Evacuations in the immediate area were ordered within three minutes.

How many are still missing in Maui? ›

Maui continued its grim search Tuesday for around 1,300 still missing from the deadliest US wildfire in more than a century, as officials have only been able to comb through about a quarter of the disaster zone now feared to be a partial graveyard.

Is it safe to drink water in Lahaina? ›

For the latest quarter assessed by the U.S. EPA (January 2021 - March 2021), tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.

What is the crime rate in Lahaina hi? ›

Lahaina Annual Crimes
Number of Crimes44406
Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)3.4631.96

How did the Maui fires start 2023? ›

Several wildfires erupted across Maui on Aug. 8, as Hurricane Dora passed south of the Hawaiian islands. The company that day warned customers that winds had knocked down power lines in West Maui, where Lahaina is located, and near Kula, where another fire broke out.

What started the fire in Maui 2023? ›

No single cause has been determined, but experts said one possibility was that active power lines that fell in high winds ignited the wildfire that ultimately consumed Lahaina, a coastal town of 13,000 in western Maui that was leveled.

Why is the sand black in Maui? ›

The three most common materials you will find on a black sand beach are basalt, andesite, and volcanic glass. Iron is the dominant mineral in these three volcanic materials that give black sand beaches their rich black coloring.

What is the death toll in Lahaina? ›

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The death toll from the Lahaina wildfire increased to 106 on Tuesday as Maui County began to release the identities of those who perished. The two people identified on Tuesday evening were: Robert Dyckman, 74, of Lahaina; and Buddy Jantoc, 79, also of Lahaina.

Is Maui in danger of volcano? ›

Maui volcanoes are safe to visit as the chance of an eruption is very low per the US Geological Survey. Haleakala is considered an active volcano by the US Geological Survey (USGS).

What is the Maui death toll? ›

Only five of the 106 dead had been identified as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Maui County officials. Two were publicly named, and names of the other three will be announced when their families are notified, the county said. Family members of missing people had provided 41 DNA samples, county officials said.

Are the Hawaii fires contained? ›

Though the wildfires have mostly been contained, Hawaii residents are still reeling from the aftermath as families assess the devastating damage to their homes and identifications are released of some of the 106 people killed.

How many people are still unaccounted for in Maui? ›

With 106 people confirmed dead and about 1,300 still unaccounted for, Maui braced for more heartbreaking losses as officials continued to search for fire victims.

How much Maui burned? ›

The devastating Maui wildfire have killed at least 99 people so far, and have burned more than 2,500 acres across historic towns like Lahaina, destroying homes and businesses in the region.


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