Maui wildfires: Officials worry death toll could rise as only 25% of burned area searched



CNN

With just a quarter Maui is a wildfire area Searched for, Hawaii officials said Monday that the death toll from the worst wildfires in the U.S. already in more than a century could rise significantly.

At least 99 people have been confirmed dead in the wildfires, and the number is expected to double in the next 10 days, Hawaii Governor Josh Green told CNN on Monday.

“It’s a tragedy beyond tragedy,” the governor said of the fires that began sweeping parts of the island last week.

Officials are expected to begin the rollout on Tuesday Names of the deceased whose families have been notified, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said at a press conference Monday.

Most of the dead were out in the open, in cars or in the water in the hard-hit Lahaina area of ​​West Maui, Green told CNN. Also as teams and Corpse dogs Join the quest, and the quest unfolds through ruined neighborhoods.

Because of communication gaps, it’s unclear how many people are unaccounted for, Green said. “A lot of people had to run, leaving behind everything they had. They didn’t have phones – the phones were burnt to ashes,” he said.

As of Monday, 25% of the fire zone had been searched, and he believes 85% to 90% will be contained by the end of the week.

“We started with one dog. We’re in our 20s,” Pelletier said. “We can go as fast as we can, but we’ve got the right amount of workers and teams.”

After the wind-driven wildfires began spreading erratically on August 8, homes, businesses and historic landmarks were destroyed, suddenly engulfing homes and forcing a brutal escape. Displacing thousands.

“Nothing can prepare you for what I’ve seen here, and nothing can prepare them for the emotional toll of the impact this severe event has had on them,” FEMA Administrator Dean Criswell told reporters Monday.

The Maui wildfires were the worst wildfires in the United States in more than 100 years. According to the National Fire Protection Association.

As firefighting and search efforts continue, here’s the latest on what’s happening in Maui:

• Treatment of burn victims: Nine people injured in the wildfires have been admitted to a specialized burn unit in Honolulu, the only burn unit in the state and Pacific region. Straub Medical Center.

• Calls to donate DNA: People with missing family members are urged to contact authorities to provide DNA samples to aid in the identification process. Only three of those killed could be identified through fingerprints, stressing the need for DNA swabs.

• Homes lost: More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fire — 86% of them residential, Green said.

• ‘Accommodation starts emptying’: More than 400 hotel rooms are available for evacuees, and 1,400 Airbnb units will be ready for them Tuesday, Green said. Another 160 people are offering to share their houses, he said. “We’ve already housed 220 families. So you can see the shelters starting to empty,” Green said.

• Power is coming back: The fire wiped out electricity and communications for thousands of people. Hawaii Electric declared Restored power to 80% of its customers on Maui.

• Case on electric wires: Hawaii is electric facing the case High winds downed power lines helped fuel the devastating Lahaina wildfires, although an official cause has yet to be determined.

• Coast Guard shifts focus: The U.S. Coast Guard in Maui is moving from a search-and-rescue mode to containing hazardous materials left behind by fires at sea. Sonar technology was brought in and a 100-foot boom was placed at the mouth of Lahaina Harbor, the service said.

• The official answer is under review: Hawaii’s attorney general will review the fire response, amid reports that firefighters faced weak or pressurized hydrants and that 400 emergency alert systems failed to activate as the fire spread.

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Franklin “Frankie” Trejos and Carol Hartley were identified by their families as Maui wildfire victims.

Families of two victims told CNN that their loved ones died trying to escape the Lahaina fire.

Maui resident Carol Hartley, 60, and her partner, Charles Paxton, were separated as smoke billowed from the fire as they tried to leave, her sister Donna Gardner Hartley told CNN.

The wind was bad and they couldn’t see the dark smoke, and it “felt like a tornado,” Gardner Hartley recalled Charles telling him.

Gardner Hartley wrote in a Facebook post, “They kept calling each other names. He was yelling, ‘Run, run, run, Carol run.'” Eventually he couldn’t hear her.

Paxton, who was found by his friends, arranged to look for Hartley after he was treated for his injuries, the sister said.

Hartley’s remains were found on the couple’s property over the weekend, Gardner Hartley told CNN.

Her sister described Hartley as an independent spirit who “always looked for the good in people and always helped others.”

Franklin “Frankie” Trejos, 68, died trying to escape the Lahaina fire, his niece Giga Perez Grant told CNN.

The family received a call from Trejos’ roommate informing them of a fire on the island and that he didn’t know if Trejos made it out alive, Perez Grant said.

“We kept Hope alive, but a few hours later her roommate called us back and told us they had found Uncle Frankie’s remains,” Perez Grant said.

Trejos and his roommate initially tried to save their property, but decided to leave in their own cars when they realized that was impossible, Perez Grant said.

The roommate later found Trejos’ car a few blocks from the house, with Trejos’ remains on top of the roommate’s dog, which was also dead, Perez Grant said.

Trejos, a native of Costa Rica, moved to the United States at a young age and lived in Lahaina for the past 30 years, according to his daughter-in-law.

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“Uncle Frankie was a kind man, a nature lover, an animal lover and he loved his friends and his family with this whole heart,” Perez Grant said. “He loved adventure and was a free spirit.”

As the fire advanced rapidly in the historic town of Lahaina last week, first responders faced weak water pressure and fire hydrants had run dry, several firefighters said. The New York Times.

“There was no water in the hydrants,” Kehi Ho, one of the firefighters working in Lahaina, told the paper.

Another firefighter, who was not named in the paper because he was not authorized to discuss the process, said his truck was connected to a hydrant, but the water pressure was too weak to use and the flames spread beyond the firefighter’s ability.

CNN has sought comment and information from the company Maui County Water Supply Department.

Asked about reports that firefighters did not have enough water to put out the fire on August 8, the governor told reporters on Monday: “One thing people need to understand, especially from far away, is that there is a big deal. Water conflict on Maui over the years.

“We have a hard time in Maui. In other rural areas, we have enough water for homes, for our people, for any response,” Green said.

West Maui residents have described showing up without warning, jumping highways, flooding their yards or their homes, forcing them to run for their lives.

Hawaii’s network of about 400 alarms is used to warn residents of tsunamis and other natural disasters. Not activated As the fire spread on Aug. 8, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Adam Weintraub said.

While the emergency response is still being reviewed, officials believe the sirens were “basically immobilized” by the extreme heat, Green told CNN on Monday.

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez is ready to review authorities’ response to the wildfires, her office announced Friday. The attorney general’s office said the review “covers important decision-making and sustainability policies, both during and after wildfires.”

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