Residents of Hawaii have been recounting harrowing tales as wildfires spread rapidly across the state, now prompting an emergency proclamation from the acting governor. Maui resident Steve Scott described to ABC News’ Gio Benitez how he came to discover the danger they were in: “We started smelling the smoke, and that’s when we knew we had trouble. It came, and it came quick.”
The conditions are perfect for these devastating fires; dry terrain combined with powerful trade winds being squeezed between a high pressure system to the north and Hurricane Dora down south. Scott spoke of the strong breeze: “Like nothing we’ve ever seen before.” As he attempted to fight off the fire himself with a hose, he found himself cornered – their only escape was to run to the harbor.
This is now a time of great crisis in Hawaii, and courage is being tested like never before. People like Steve Scott are fighting a brave battle against forces beyond comprehension, demonstrating great strength and resolve to protect their homes and loved ones.
Malika Dudley had a harrowing experience when she was forced to evacuate her home in Maui in the middle of the night due to raging wildfires. In an interview with ABC News Live, she recalled how smoke woke her up at 1am, only to be dismissed by her husband. It wasn’t until 30 minutes later that her neighbor warned them of the fires looming above their property.
Dudley looked out the window to find a “red glow” outside her home. With no time to spare, the family evacuated in haste. Despite being now located in Haliimaile on the slopes of Haleakalā, Dudley still has to endure the sight of sprawling fire from the mountain. What’s worse is that this dangerous and destructive wildfire continues to expand and grow.
Residents of Maui are facing immense devastation as raging wildfires continue to rage across the island, aided by high winds from Hurricane Dora. Downtown Lahaina has been especially hard hit, with many businesses still recovering from the effects of the pandemic now left in ruins. “I don’t know if we can recover from this,” said Scott of the catastrophic losses.
In response, acting Governor Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation for Maui and Hawaii Counties on Tuesday, and extended it to all counties on Wednesday. Non-essential air travel is being discouraged, while state agencies have been ordered to assist those affected by the evacuation. Visitors to West Maui are being urged to depart the island in a safe and timely manner.
“We are closely following the fires caused by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora,” said Governor Luke. “The safety of our residents is paramount and activating the Hawaii National Guard to support emergency responders in the impacted communities is essential.” As communities around Maui start to grasp the impact of these destructive events, they are faced with the challenge of rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.
As Hurricane Dora made its way through Hawaii, strong winds quickly spread six devastating fires across the islands of Maui and the Big Island. Already, these blazes have burned over 1,800 acres, with no end in sight. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for all Hawaiian Islands, and to help contain the situation emergency evacuations were put into place in Upcountry Maui and Lahaina.
In response, Hawaii’s Department of Defense has activated the state’s National Guard to assist with fire suppression on both islands as well as have requested assistance from the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division. However, this will be dependent on whether or not the wind speed dies down significantly enough.
The fight against Hawaii’s raging fires is ongoing and time is of the essence. It is essential that we stand by our fellow Hawaiians while they work towards containing the fires and preventing further destruction of their homes and communities.
Travelers heading to Maui over the weekend faced major delays following a large brushfire that began raging on Friday near Lahaina. In response, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Hawaii Pacific patrol launched an operation to rescue the 12 people who jumped into the waters off Lahaina in order to escape the flames, as per the state’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
Kahului Airport, Maui’s main gateway, was not formally shut down, yet disruptions caused by the smoke resulted in numerous flight delays and cancellations. The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) reported that 1,800 people were forced to find refuge at Kahului Airport overnight.
Individuals travelling to Maui should make sure to check their airlines for up-to-date flight status information. Those affected by the fire are advised to take necessary health and safety precautions as they may be exposed to high levels of smoke.
Alarm bells are ringing as travelers are warned to fly away from Maui. The Hawaii Department of Transportation issued the urgent plea for people not to travel to the island due to the smoke and hazardous conditions caused by the wildfires. This has created a frenzy on Alaskan Airlines flight from LAX, which was delayed for hours, after passengers were told about the danger posed by the wildfire on Maui.
Sam Herring, a passenger still on board, spoke to ABC News, sharing his confusion: “I was originally headed to West Maui, but now I’m not sure what my plans are. It’s literally burning down there and they’re evacuating people to Honolulu. I had intended to stay with someone I know in West Maui, but now I guess I’ll have to sleep in my rental car instead.” Evacuation warnings such as this one highlight the urgency of the situation, and make it clear that quick action is needed to prevent further damage.