Hawaii Wildfires: What We Know About the Devasting Maui Fire

Hawaii Wildfires: What We Know About the Devasting Maui Fire

Wildfires spread on Hawaii’s Maui Island. These fires have effectively destroyed the historic resort city of Lahaina.

The exact cause of the wildfires, set ablaze on Tuesday evening, has yet to be determined. However, experts are saying that flash droughts, invasive plants, dry vegetation and climate change definitely contributed to the fires. According to Reuters, the National Weather Service also issued warnings for the Hawaiian Islands for dry trade wind weather, which it canceled late Wednesday evening.

What contributed to the wildfires?

Experts are saying the winds from Hurricane Dora, located hundreds of miles southwest of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean, fueled the flames across the island. In addition to Dora, a low-pressure system west of Japan is also contributing to the elevated and sustained wind speeds.

The increase of non-native plants and grasses, such as Guinea grass, in areas formerly designated for farming and forest cover, have escalated the risk and severity of the fires because of their quick flammability. These grasses encompass approximately 26% of Hawaii’s terrain, according to insights provided by Pickett.

How contained are the fires?

As of Friday, the Lahaina fire was reported to be 85% contained, but its effects were present. NPR reports Hawaii Governor Josh Green discussed the detrimental effects the fires had on the island and what the rebuilding process will look like.

“It’s going to be, in the short term, heartbreaking,” Green said. “In the long term, people are going to need mental health care services. In the very long term we’ll rebuild together.”

In a 9-minute video released by Hawaii governor, Josh Green, he reports that over 2,700 buildings were destroyed in Lahaina and relayed the death toll of a minimum of 96 individuals, as of late Sunday. However, Maui County Officials, along with Green, expressed anticipation for the fatalities to continue increasing. Green also spoke on a team of an additional 35 Urban Search and Rescue personnel, accompanied by 20 dogs, who will soon be arriving to aid the island.

Hawaii officials have urged tourists to avoid traveling to Maui as many people, including tourists, are set to be evacuated.

FEATURED IMAGE: An aerial view shows wildfire smoke in Lahaina. Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke via Facebook via REUTERS

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