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Hawaii wildfires: Govt under fire as Maui fire death toll feared to rise

The Maui fires, which burned whole neighbourhoods in Hawaiian island and destroyed more than 1,000 structures, are likely the state’s largest ever disaster. The Telegraph

Huge Hawaii wildfires have caused chaos on Maui island with residents angered by what they see as a poor response from authorities. 

The historic area of Lahaina of Maui island has been hit hard, and locals complain they weren’t adequately warned and are now struggling to get help. The number of deaths is feared to rise as rescuers search through homes, hotels, and other buildings in the aftermath of disastrous Maui fires. The Hawaii wildfires situation could surpass the deadly 2018 California Camp Fire, which claimed 85 lives. The government is under scrutiny, and the state’s emergency alert system is being criticised.

Communication problems are hampering relief efforts, and many are without power and running water, while scorching heat of Maui fires is making life even tougher. Over 1,400 people have taken refuge in emergency shelters, but contamination of tap water with a harmful substance, benzene, is a growing concern. The Maui fires damaged or destroyed around 2,207 structures, mostly homes, and the cost of rebuilding is estimated at a staggering £5.5 billion. Lahaina remains barricaded due to dangerous particles from the fire.

Local volunteers, led by Native Hawaiians, are stepping up to help where official efforts have fallen short. They’re supplying essentials like generators, clothing, and ready-to-eat meals to the hardest-hit areas. The lack of support from the county and state governments has left many feeling let down, and frustrations are high. Even a professional surfer’s attempt to ship insulin to Maui was blocked due to bureaucratic hurdles.

Experts had warned of the wildfire risk, but authorities were caught off guard. The state’s emergency alert system wasn’t up to the challenge, and the rapid spread of the fires caught many by surprise by the Hawaii wildfires. The destruction isn’t just about lives and homes – cultural landmarks like the Baldwin Home Museum have also been lost. 

As locals return to their homes to salvage what’s left, the extent of the devastation is sinking in, leaving a lasting impact on this tight-knit community.

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