Update: Hawaii Fires are a Message: 80 now Dead

Hawaii is a warning. The world doesn’t need more reminders that climate change is accelerating. But we’re going to keep getting them. (The Atlantic)


The death toll from the Maui wildfires in Hawaii has risen to 80 as search teams comb through the smoldering mountains ruins of Lahaina and a new fire triggered the evacuation of another community on Friday night.

State emergency management records showed no indication that warning sirens were triggered before the fires. But Governor Josh Green said it has been too early to know whether the emergency siren system failed.

Hawaiian Electric, the utility company that oversees Maui’s power company and provides utility service to 95% of residents in the state, is being scrutinized for failing to deploy a “public power shutoff plan” in response to big wind events that could incite fires.

The Maui police department said the new fire was burning in Kaanapali in West Maui, to the north-east of the area that burned earlier this week.

The Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and FEMA has put the cost of the estimated rebuild from the Lahaina Fire at $5.52 billion. 

As of Friday a total of 2,207 structures were damaged or destroyed and 2,170 acres have burned as a result of the Lahaina Fire on Maui, according to an updated damage assessment from the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and FEMA.

The Lahaina Fire resulted in an estimated total of 2,719 structures exposed and 86 percent of buildings exposed to the fire were classified as residential, the update said.

The wildfires are the state’s deadliest natural disaster in decades, surpassing a 1960 tsunami that killed 61 people. An even deadlier tsunami in 1946, which killed more than 150 on the Big Island, prompted the development of the territory-wide emergency system that includes sirens, which are sounded monthly to test their readiness.

The Guardian and CNN