August 11, 2023 Maui wildfire news

By Aditi Sangal, Tori B. Powell, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond, Chris Lau and Andrew Raine, CNN

Updated 7:54 p.m. ET, August 12, 2023
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7:41 p.m. ET, August 12, 2023

More than 2,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the Lahaina area, officials say

From CNN’s Gloria Pazmino, Rebekah Riess and Mike Valerio

At least 2,207 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the Lahaina fire in western Maui, according to an updated damage assessment from the Pacific Disaster Center and FEMA.

An estimated 86% of buildings exposed to the fire were classified as residential, the update said. The report also said 2,170 acres had burned in the blaze as of Friday.

Maui County shared a graphic on Facebook this morning that listed the estimated cost of rebuilding from the fire at $5.52 billion, citing FEMA and the Pacific Disaster Center as the source.

But a FEMA spokesperson issued a statement later Saturday saying the $5.5 billion figure "is not a dollar amount from FEMA and does not reflect any damage estimations from our agency." 

"FEMA has not done any estimates of costs, we are still in active response and initial recovery phases, and it is too early to do so. Once all life saving and life sustaining needs are met, we will begin to assess the damage and formulate preliminary estimates," the statement reads.

CNN has reached out to the Pacific Disaster Center for clarification.

This post has been updated with comments from a FEMA spokesperson regarding a reported damage estimate for the Lahaina fire.

7:51 a.m. ET, August 12, 2023

"We underestimated the lethality, the quickness of fire," Hawaii Congresswoman Jill Tokuda says

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Jill Tokuda, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference in Washington, DC, on November 13, 2022.
Jill Tokuda, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference in Washington, DC, on November 13, 2022. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Speaking with CNN’s Amara Walker on CNN This Morning on Saturday, Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii) said the state “underestimated the lethality, the quickness of fire,” and failed to plan for redundancies in its emergency alert system.

Tokuda said these days, emergency alerts are received on cell phones, but that there was no cell phone coverage in the area at the time.

“It's not like hurricane force winds are unknown to Hawaii, or dry brush, or red flag conditions. We saw this before in (Hurricane) Lane. We did not learn our lesson from Lane (in 2018) -- that brush fires could erupt as a result of churning hurricane winds below us to the south,” Tokuda said. “We have got to make sure that we do better.”

In 2018, as Hurricane Lane approached Hawaii, bush fires scorched a total of 2,330 acres in Maui. The following year, fires in Maui burned around 25,000 acres and yet, in a report last year, Hawaii's emergency management agency described the risk of wildfires to human life as “low.”

As officials await FEMA searches inside buildings for any additional victims, Tokuda said the oceans around Lahaina will also have to be dredged, “to make sure that every individual that is lost is found.”

The Congresswoman said she understands residents expect actions from lawmakers, saying “we need to be there to help them as they rebuild back. It's going to take years, generations.”

5:13 a.m. ET, August 12, 2023

West Maui fire that prompted evacuation in Kaanapali now 100% contained, officials say

From CNN's Michelle Watson  

A fire in West Maui that prompted an evacuation in the Kaanapali area is now 100% contained, according to Facebook posts and an email to CNN from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.  

 A Facebook post from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency around 7:44 p.m. HST (1:44 a.m. ET) said evacuations in the Kaanapali area were "NO LONGER taking place."  

At 9:50 p.m. HST (3:50 a.m. EST) the County of Maui said, "Kaanapali fire now 100% contained." 

4:10 a.m. ET, August 12, 2023

West Maui fire that prompted evacuations in Kaanapali now 80% controlled, police say

From CNN's Michelle Watson and Norma Galeana 

People walk along Main Street past wildfire damage on August 11, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii.
People walk along Main Street past wildfire damage on August 11, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Rick Bowmer/AP

The fire in West Maui that prompted evacuations in the Kaanapali area is now 80% controlled, the Maui Police Department said Friday night at just after 9 p.m. HST (3 a.m. EST).  

"Per MFD, fire is 80% controlled. No further evacuations are being conducted," an updated Facebook post said.  

No other details were provided.  

Meanwhile, police are restricting access into West Maui, according to an update from Maui County Government on Friday night.

It added that additional cellphone service was becoming available in the region, but reminded users to text instead of call due to limited resources.

3:50 a.m. ET, August 12, 2023

Death roll reaches 80, Maui County government confirms

From CNN's Michelle Watson 

The confirmed death toll from this week’s wildfires in Maui has now reached 80, the Maui County government announced Friday at 9 p.m. HST (3 a.m. ET). 

"Firefighters continue working to extinguish flare-ups and contain fires in Lahaina, Pulehu/Kihei and Upcountry Maui," the release said. "The number of fatalities is at 80."

1:31 a.m. ET, August 12, 2023

Fire in West Maui prompts evacuation of Kaanapali area  

From CNN's Mike Valerio and Michelle Watson  

A fire in West Maui has prompted an evacuation of the Kaanapali area, the Maui Police Department said in a Facebook post.    

"As of this posting, there is a fire in West Maui. Residents in the Kaanapali area are currently being evacuated," police said.

"No unauthorized personnel is allowed in the burnt-out disaster zone. Violators will be removed from the area and may face arrest," the post added.    

The police said there were currently no restrictions barring exit from the west and they would allow people to enter the area "once it is safe to do so."

"Our priority is to ensure the safety of the community and first responders," they said.

Latest updates on Maui wildfires: 

11:57 p.m. ET, August 11, 2023

Maui police shut down only public road in and out of Lahaina

From CNN’s Mike Valerio and Cole Higgins 

In an aerial view, cars back up for miles on the Honoapiilani highway as residents are allowed back into areas affected by the recent wildfire on August 11, 2023 in Wailuku, Hawaii.
In an aerial view, cars back up for miles on the Honoapiilani highway as residents are allowed back into areas affected by the recent wildfire on August 11, 2023 in Wailuku, Hawaii. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After allowing Lahaina residents to briefly return to the devastated town Friday, Maui Police abruptly shut down the main road into Lahaina just before 4 p.m. local time. 

The Maui Police Department said the closure was "effective immediately," according to a Facebook post. 

CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now reported residents disregarded access rules within Lahaina, leading law enforcement to shut down entry. Local media reports showed the roadway congested, as officers redirected vehicles. 

Law enforcement began allowing members of the public past road blocks to check on property only hours earlier. It remains unclear when public traffic will be restored.

11:05 p.m. ET, August 11, 2023

The Lahaina fire is now Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster in state history. Here's what to know

From CNN staff

Wildfire wreckage is seen from an aerial view in Lahaina on Thursday.
Wildfire wreckage is seen from an aerial view in Lahaina on Thursday. Rick Bowmer/AP

At least 67 people have died in the wildfires that torched the Hawaiian island of Maui. This officially makes the Lahaina fire Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster in state history, surpassing the 61 confirmed deaths from a tsunami in Hilo in 1960.

Crews have not yet searched the inside of most of the burned buildings, specifically structures in the hard-hit city of Lahaina, officials said. The fire in Lahaina is now 85% contained, the county said Friday.

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez will spearhead a “comprehensive review” of decisions made by officials in response to the fires, her office announced. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, who authorized the review, said an organized response was hampered by power outages and damage to the phone network.

Here's where things stand Friday:

  • Search efforts: Search and rescue teams with cadaver dogs from California and Washington are in Maui to assist, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The federal government has released enough food and water to support 5,000 people for five days, the White House said. Hawaii County has created a task force to support Maui, including helping people find housing, Mayor Mitch Roth said.
  • Lahaina: Residents with identification showing proof of residency, and visitors with proof of hotel reservations, were allowed back in the area on Friday. CNN affiliate KVVU showed footage of cars lining up on the only access road. The governor previously estimated that about 80% of the town, the economic hub of the region, was destroyed by the fires. The US Coast Guard said it rescued 17 people who fled into the Pacific Ocean to escape the wildfire flames that destroyed the town.
  • Limited resources: A "mass influx" of people have been seeking assistance at food banks, Maui Food Bank Executive Director Richard Yust said. He said resources on the island are limited and that even an expedited ocean freight is two weeks away. People need food, water, cleaning products and hygiene products, he said. Hundreds of displaced Maui residents tell CNN they are trying to find loved ones while grappling with losing their homes.
  • Emergency alerts: Maui’s warning sirens were not activated when the Lahaina fire began on Tuesday, records show, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. But other layers of the emergency warning system were triggered, including mobile phone alerts and messages on televisions and radio stations, a spokesperson said. Additionally, Hawaii officials underestimated the deadly threat of wildfires, according to a CNN review of state and local emergency planning documents.
  • Communication updates: Maui County started providing updates on the aftermath of wildfires in the area via radio stations. Information will also be posted on the county's website and social media pages. However, power and internet are still out in much of West Maui, according to a hyperlocal nonprofit organization that said it has not been able to reach people.
  • Federal reaction: Vice President Kamala Harris said she and President Joe Biden are closely monitoring the ongoing crisis in Hawaii. The White House said Biden spoke with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green again on Friday. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would push to include funding for Maui disaster relief in the supplemental funding bill. Meantime, US Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency in Hawaii.
  • Why the fires have been so hard to contain: Drought worsened in Hawaii over the past week, leading to fire spread, according to the US Drought Monitor released Thursday. High winds from Hurricane Dora 500 miles south of Hawaii coupled with low humidity levels produced "dangerous fire weather conditions” through Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said. Invasive grasses and shrubs also become highly flammable in the dry season, scientists said.
  • How to help: Help is desperately needed for people displaced by the fires, and residents CNN interviewed this week urged viewers and readers to contribute if they can. You can support relief efforts here.