The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

Hawaiian Wildfires Blaze a Path of Destruction and Tragedy


Devastating wildfires scorched the Hawaiian island of Maui last week. One of these wildfires completely decimated the historic town of Lahaina.

The wildfire was propelled by high winds, advancing its spread at an incredibly rapid pace. The wind speeds were between 60 and 81 mph and the fire is reported to have advanced a mile a minute.

Lahaina residents who had to flee for their lives jumped into the ocean to escape the torrent of flames. The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued 14 people from waters off Lahaina.

Around 2,200 structures have been damaged or destroyed, with 86 percent of them being residential buildings.

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The Hawaiian firestorm has come amid a series of heatwave-induced wildfires that have spread across the Southwest United States and have been plaguing Canada.

The death toll from the wildfires has climbed to 99 and is likely to double over the coming days as hundreds are still missing. FEMA crews have been searching through the rubble looking for remains with the assistance of cadaver dogs.

FEMA has started to provide $700 to displaced residents to cover the cost of food, water, and medical supplies. The money is in addition to whatever amount residents qualify for to cover the loss of property. It is estimated that the wildfires have caused over $5 billion dollars in damages.

More than 400 hotel rooms have been secured in the last two days for those who have been displaced. 1,400 Airbnb units have been made available and 160 citizens have volunteered to share their homes.

Hawaii Governor Joshua Green stated, “It’s a tragedy beyond tragedies. We, of course, never expected to see this anywhere in America, but we are burdened by the circumstance of climate change and tragedy at the same time. That’s why this fire occurred for the most part. We’re going to get to the bottom of it though.”

Governor Green also issued a warning to investors and realtors who have reportedly approached Maui residents to purchase their property that was damaged in the wildfire. The claims surfaced on social media by Maui residents who said that they have been contacted by investors and realtors.

There has also been criticism of the emergency response to the wildfires. Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has called for an investigation into the catastrophe. None of the 400 sirens on the Hawaiian archipelago were activated when the wildfires began.

Hawaii’s emergency management agency reported last year that the risk posed by wildfires to human life was low. Hawaii officials underestimated the threat even as they acknowledged a lack of the necessary resources to mitigate it, according to a CNN review of state and local emergency planning documents.

The state’s main electric provider, Hawaiian Electric, is facing a lawsuit claiming power lines blown over by high winds helped the destructive Lahaina wildfire, though an official cause has not been determined.

“This going to be a long-term recovery operation,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell stated.

The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Feeding America, and other organizations are accepting donations to help those affected by the tragic wildfires.

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