Honolulu: Hawaii’s devastating wildfire on Maui has resulted in a tragic death count of 99, which Governor Josh Green predicts could double within the next 10 days. Emergency crews are diligently searching the charred landscape for more human remains as they comb through homes and vehicles. Last week’s fire in Lahaina has become the deadliest US wildfire in a century.
Identification of victims has proven challenging due to the fire’s intensity and destruction. Only three out of the 99 victims have been identified using fingerprints. To aid identification, authorities are urging relatives of missing individuals to provide DNA samples. The town’s ruins have been only partially searched, with efforts to increase coverage to 90% by the upcoming weekend.
Maui Police Chief John Pelletier emphasized the difficulty of search conditions, citing unstable structures and airborne toxins as hazards. The disaster has sparked concerns about the region’s preparedness and response protocols. A lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Electric, accusing the company of failing to manage power lines during high fire danger conditions.
The fire’s origin remains uncertain, but a combination of factors including a nearby hurricane contributed to its rapid spread. Communication challenges, power outages, and a lack of alerts hindered timely responses from residents. The wildfire’s impact has led to property damage surpassing $5 billion.
Efforts to aid victims include offering hundreds of hotel rooms and repurposing Airbnb homes for extended rehousing. As the recovery continues, authorities are downplaying concerns over incoming adverse weather conditions, such as Tropical Storm Greg, which is expected to pass south of Maui in the coming week.