Hawaii Wildfires: Death Toll Reaches 55 and Hundreds Missing
Kanako Mita and Noriko Watanabe
Modern Tokyo Times
The death toll in Hawaii from wildfires is now 55. Hundreds to over a thousand people remain missing. Hence, information about events in Lahaina remains sketchy – while bodies are still being found.
Wildfires gathered in speed through Maui. The speed and spiral of events took people by surprise.
The Guardian reports, “Questions have arisen about why residents weren’t given enough warning to flee Lahaina as the flames threatened to engulf it. AP notes that Hawaii boasts what the state describes as the largest integrated outdoor all-hazard public safety warning system in the world, with about 400 sirens positioned across the island chain to alert people to threats.”
Accordingly, in Maui, the county alerted people via mobile phones, television broadcasts, and radio stations.
The BBC reports, “Maui itself was also under a red flag alert – meaning warm temperatures, very low humidities and stronger winds were expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger – before the fires broke out.”
Josh Green, the Governor of Hawaii, said: “We have never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this before.”
Lee Jay Walker says, “Population growth in Hawaii, millions of international tourists, and non-native grasses (more flammable than indigenous plants) are also putting natural stresses on Hawaii.”
The potent winds from Hurricane Dora also enabled the wildfires to spread rapidly and further than expected.
NBC News reports, “Hotels and residents from across Hawaii will be asked to house thousands of people displaced by devastating wildfires that have struck Maui, the governor said.”
One can only imagine the utter shock of local communities and the survivors who are in mourning.
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