Hawaii wildfire death toll climbs above 50, many more feared dead

 August 11, 2023

The massive wildfires in Hawaii have killed at least 55 people as of Friday and authorities fear that many more are dead but haven't been found yet.

Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier called for residents not to return to the destroyed city of Lahaina until the situation was under control and all of the deceased had been recovered.

The fire apparently swept through the city so quickly that many residents had no time to recover anything from their homes and were forced to flee, often on foot, ahead of racing flames as the city was consumed.

The disaster is one of the worst in the state and one of the deadliest wildfires since the 2018 camp fire in California that destroyed the town of Paradise and left over fifty people dead.

Utter destruction

The city of Lahaina isn't the only area affected by wildfire. Hawaii's big island is also dealing with rampant wildfires, but the destruction of property and life has been kept to a minimum.

A combination of dry weather and strong winds created by a storm system have created a dangerous situation that led to Lahaina's destruction.

Countless resources have been mobilized to assist in both controlling the situation and helping residents recover.

Both National Guard and Navy forces have mobilized both to fight the fires as well as provide relief for those who were forced to flee the fires.

President Joe Biden has also declared a state of emergency allowing even more funds and resources to be allocated to those in need.

Massive response

Biden stated on Thursday that, "We’re working as quickly as possible to fight those fires and evacuate residents and tourists. In the meantime, our prayers are with the people of Hawaii, but not just our prayers: every asset that we have will be available to them."

So far, every asset from FEMA to the armed forces have been deployed to tackle this crisis.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications Jon Kirby told CNN that, "We’re working very closely with Hawaii, Hawaii and official … we’re also deploying some military assets FEMA personnel on the ground. We’re going to focus on this as keenly and as sharply as we can."

It will be a long road to recovery even with the massive response from the federal government.

Those who have lost loved ones will deal with this disaster for years and rebuilding an entire city will be a massive effort. For many of those affected, things will never be the same again.

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