Deadly wildfires burning across Maui prompt evacuations

By Aditi Sangal, Eric Levenson, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell, Maureen Chowdhury, Amir Vera, Adrienne Vogt and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

Updated 10:37 a.m. ET, August 10, 2023
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8:38 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Thousands are without power in Maui County

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

 

Thousands of Hawaiian Electric Company customers on Maui are without power Wednesday morning as winds associated with Hurricane Dora — a Category 4 storm about 740 miles southwest of Honolulu — are helping to fan strong winds and wildfires.

As of 1:20 a.m. local time (7:20 a.m. ET), 14,114 customers — nearly 20% of the county — were without power, according to Poweroutage.us.

3:17 p.m. ET, August 9, 2023

12 people in Maui County were rescued after they jumped into the ocean to escape wildfire danger

From CNN's Amanda Jackson

A screenshot from a video shows the fire burning in Lahaina, Maui County, on Tuesday.
A screenshot from a video shows the fire burning in Lahaina, Maui County, on Tuesday. courtesy Jayson Duque

Winds associated with Hurricane Dora, which is passing hundreds of miles south of Hawaii, have helped to fan wildfires across the state's Big Island and Maui. The fires have damaged structures, prompted rescues and even spurred people to jump into the ocean to escape danger, according to officials.

In Maui County, 12 people were rescued near Lahaina after “entering the ocean due to smoke and fire conditions,” the Coast Guard and county officials said. “Individuals were transported by the Coast Guard to safe areas,” Maui County officials said in a news release.

Dora, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph, was about 740 miles southwest of Honolulu as of late Tuesday (5 a.m. ET Wednesday), the National Hurricane Center said.

8:31 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Erratic winds and steep terrain in areas of Maui are challenging crews battling wildfires

From CNN's Amanda Jackson

Smoke blows across the slope of Haleakala volcano on Maui, Hawaii, as a fire burns in Maui's upcountry region on Tuesday.
Smoke blows across the slope of Haleakala volcano on Maui, Hawaii, as a fire burns in Maui's upcountry region on Tuesday. Matthew Thayer/The Maui News via AP

Category 4 Hurricane Dora — which is churning about 740 miles southwest of Honolulu — is helping to fan strong winds over Hawaii’s Big Island and Maui.

Wildfire behavior in both the Lahaina and Upcountry areas of Maui has tested crews.

“Maui Fire officials warn that erratic wind, challenging terrain, steep slopes and dropping humidity, the direction and the location of the fire conditions make it difficult to predict path and speed of a wildfire,” Maui County officials said in a Tuesday news release.

“The fire can be a mile or more from your house, but in a minute or two, it can be at your house,” Maui County Fire Assistant Chief Jeff Giesea said in the release. “Burning airborne materials can light fires a great distance away from the main body of fire.”

A wall of flames destroyed businesses on Front Street in Lahaina, video from the area shows, CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now reported.

“Buildings on both sides were engulfed. There were no fire trucks at that point; I think the fire department was overwhelmed,” business owner Alan Dickar told the news outlet. “That is the most important business street on Maui.”

8:36 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Emergency proclamation issued as wildfires prompt evacuations in Hawaii

From CNN's Amanda Jackson

A wildfire burns in Lahaina, Maui County, on Tuesday.
A wildfire burns in Lahaina, Maui County, on Tuesday. courtesy Jayson Duque

Evacuations are underway across Hawaii’s Big Island and Maui as winds associated with Hurricane Dora, which is in the Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii, helped fan wildfires that have damaged structures.

Dora, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph, was about 740 miles southwest of Honolulu as of late Tuesday (5 a.m. ET Wednesday), the National Hurricane Center said.

There were no hurricane watches or warnings in effect for Hawaii. Winds of 70 to 80 mph were recorded on the Big Island, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke told CNN.

Two brush fires were burning Tuesday on the Big Island, officials said in a news release, one in the North Kohala District and the other in the South Kohala District. Some residents were under mandatory evacuation orders as power outages were impacting communications, the release said.

The Upcountry fire is estimated to be about 1,000 acres, according to county officials. The cause of the fire was unknown.

Luke, who is acting as the governor as Gov. Josh Green is traveling out of the state, issued an emergency proclamation Tuesday, activating the Hawaii National Guard "to support emergency responders in the impacted communities."

CNN’s Aya Elamroussi and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.