Images from the scene have revealed the far reaching damage wrought by the wildfires on Maui. We have a full gallery but here is a selection below.
The Maui wildfires are now the deadliest the US has seen in more than 100 years.
“This is the largest natural disaster we’ve ever experienced,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said Saturday. “It’s going to also be a natural disaster that’s going to take an incredible amount of time to recover from.”
If you are just joining us, here's the latest:
- Worst in a century: The official death toll for the wildfires currently stands at 93. According to research from the National Fire Protection Association, the fire in Lahaina is the fifth deadliest in US history and the worst since the 1918 Cloquet fire in Minnesota. But officials warn the figure is expected to rise further still. “None of us really know the size of it yet,” Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said.
- The search for victims: Only two of the people whose remains have been found in the wake of the wildfire have been identified, according to an update from Maui County. The police chief emphasized it would take time to identify people who died in such an intense firestorm.
- Far-reaching consequences: Around 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged as a result of the fires in Maui, Green said, with losses approaching an estimated $6 billion.
- Containing the flames: Firefighters have made some progress on the three largest wildfires that crews have been combating on Maui. The deadly fire in hard-hit Lahaina has not grown, but is still not fully under control, fire chiefs said.
- Evacuations: The fires have displaced thousands of people. A total of 1,418 people are at emergency evacuation shelters, according to Maui County officials. At least 1,000 rooms have been secured for support staff and those displaced by the Lahaina fires. Long-term housing solutions are being sought.
- Disaster response under review: Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez will lead a comprehensive review of officials’ response to the catastrophic wildfires. “My Department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review,” Lopez said in a statement.
- Global warming: While Hawaii is no stranger to natural disasters, the fires that ripped through Maui this week are a stark reminder of a changing climate, Green told journalists Saturday. "We've been experiencing wildfires for decades ... but this is the first time we've ever experienced wildfires in the context of (current) conditions: global warming and with the hurricane that's just passing us," he added.
The Lahaina fire in Hawaii is now the deadliest in over 100 years, according to US Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell.
"This now has superseded (Northern California’s Butte County) Camp Fire from 2018," Merrell said during a news conference Saturday that provided updates.
The Camp Fire that ravaged Butte County in Northern California in November 2018 killed 85 people, burning a total of 153,336 acres and destroying more than 18,000 structures.
In this week’s wildfires on Maui, the death toll has reached at least 93.
According to research from the National Fire Protection Association, it is now the 5th deadliest wildfire in US history and the worst since the 1918 Cloquet fire in Minnesota, which left more than 400 dead.
The death toll from the Maui, Hawaii fires is now at 93, according to a release from Maui County.
"The number of confirmed fatalities increased to 93, with two of them identified," the release said.
During a news conference Saturday Governor Josh Green (D) said the death toll is expected to increase.
"Firefighting crews are continuing to extinguish flare-ups in the Lahaina and Upcountry Maui fires. In the Upcountry Maui fire, three structures in Olinda and 16 structures in Kula were destroyed. The Pulehu/Kīhei fire was declared 100 percent contained Saturday," the release said.
At least 1,000 rooms have been secured for support staff and those displaced by the Lahaina fires, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said in a news conference Saturday.
Green was addressing the challenges of relief efforts and what he said were "heartbreaking realities" on the ground.
"I think what people are most interested in is housing – how we're gonna house our people. So we've put together a temporary housing taskforce which will work with our federal partners," Green said.
"We've already secured 1,000 rooms. Five-hundred rooms will go to families that have been displaced because of the terrible fire," he said, adding that the other 500 rooms were for support staff in the area.
"Then coming after that, in the days that follow, we'll have long-term rentals. Those are the short-term rentals turned long-term now," he continued.
"All of that's going to be covered. It's gonna be covered by the state. Some of it's going to be given charitably. And then finally FEMA will cover a great deal of the cost."
Maui Police chief John Pelletier said they have identified two of the 89 people whose remains have been found in the rubble of the Maui wildfires as of Saturday.
"We've got 89 so far," Pelletier said while speaking about the fatalities from the fire. "Today, we identified two."
Pelletier did not publicly name the two and said search teams still have long way to go in the recovery process.
"We're going as fast as we can," Pelletier said, "but just so you know, three percent. That’s what's been searched with the dogs: three percent."
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said she's in the devastated Maui area to see "first hand" what kind of rebuilding is needed for the community.
On behalf of President Biden, I just wanted to start by expressing how deeply impacted we know this community is and that our prayers are with everybody that has been impacted by this truly, truly tragic event," Criswell said Saturday during a news conference.
"I needed to be able to see first hand what the challenges are going to be – talk to the governor, talk to the mayor – to hear what their concerns are and what resources they are going to need as we go forward," Criswell said.
"I also wanted to talk to the people that have been impacted," Criswell added.
While Hawaii is no stranger to natural disasters, the fires that ripped through Maui this week are the first it has seen in the "context" of both global warming and a passing hurricane, Governor Josh Green told a press conference late Saturday.
"We've been experiencing wildfires for decades... but this is the first time we've ever experienced wildfires in the context of (current) conditions: global warming and with the hurricane that's just passing us," Green said.
The fires on Maui have been fueled in part by violent winds from Hurricane Dora as it passed to the south of the islands.
"The consequence of global warming and storm change is changing things but we've never had anything like this," Green added.
Scientists have long warned about the consequences of extreme weather brought about by human caused climate change.
Records released last year showed that Hawaiian officials had underestimated the deadly threat of wildfires. The catastrophic fires that engulfed Maui and the historic town of Lahaina this week have already become the state’s deadliest natural disaster in more than six decades, with a fatality count of at least 89.