PRAYER ALERT: Wildfires Continue to Burn in Maui

Mainland firefighters and rescuers aid efforts on the islands.

UPDATE: 11 AM EST, August 11

Officials in Hawaii report that firefighters continue to be added to the effort to contain the blazes in Lahaina, Pulehu/Kihei, and Upcountry Maui. They said, “The firefighting effort was bolstered by 21 firefighters from the Honolulu Fire Department, seven supervisory personnel, and four vehicles. A nine-member search-and-rescue team also arrived on island.”

Search and rescue teams have been deployed from other states to aid with Federal Emergency Management Agency rescue efforts underway.

Governor Josh Green stated more than 1,700 buildings have been destroyed. “In 1960, we had 61 fatalities when a large wave came through the Big Island,” Governor Green said. “This time, it’s very likely that our death totals will significantly exceed that.”

Governor Green spoke with President Joe Biden about the fires and recovery efforts on Friday. The governor provided an assessment of the damage and the aid the region will need to recover from the natural disaster. The president approved a disaster declaration for the state on Thursday.

People who have seen the devastation in Lahaina describe it as looking like a “war zone.” Downed cell phone towers are hindering family members from locating loved ones.

UPDATE: 11:30 AM EST, August 10

Thousands of acres have been burned by the wildfires that erupted in Hawaii on Tuesday and at least 36 people have died. Crews continue to battle the Maui fire, and two other fires on the Big Island while evacuations continue. Satellite images have captured the scale of destruction, as homes and businesses were leveled. The historic town of Lahaina on the island of Maui has been destroyed by the fires.

“Flyovers today of Lahaina town by U.S. Civil Air Patrol and Maui Fire Department showed that more than 271 structures have been impacted,” stated Maui County officials. “Widespread damage to the West Maui town, the harbor, and surrounding areas are being documented.”

The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued many who ran into the Pacific Ocean to get away from the smoke and flames. Helicopters and equipment have been sent by the U.S. military to assist in firefighting and rescue efforts.

A member of the Hawaii State Department of Defense said officials were working to get communications restored as cell towers were down and there was no response to calls made to 9-1-1. The distribution of water to firefighters and others who remain on the island is also underway. 

President Joe Biden said, “Our prayers are with those who have seen their homes, businesses, and communities destroyed,” and he ordered all available federal resources to give aid as needed.

UPDATE: 4 PM EST, August 9

An emergency proclamation has been issued by Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke due to wildfires on Maui that are being enhanced by Hurricane Dora which is to the south of the islands. Non-essential travel to Maui is discouraged as evacuations take place. The fires have caused some people to jump into the ocean to escape flames and smoke. The Coast Guard reports it had rescued a dozen people in Lahaina. Burn patients are being treated at island hospitals. 

“This is an unprecedented disaster as an indirect result of Hurricane Dora passing just south of our islands,” said Lieutenant Governor Luke. “It is truly devastating and my heart goes out to the residents of Maui and all those impacted.”

Governor Josh Green is returning from vacation to deal with the emergency. He stated, “We have suffered a terrible disaster in the form of a wildfire that has spread widely as a result of hurricane-force winds in the region and underlying drought conditions. Maui and the Big Island both experienced significant fires. Much of Lāhainā on Maui has been destroyed and hundreds of local families have been displaced.” He intends to submit a disaster declaration request to President Biden as soon as a preliminary assessment of damage is made.

The National Weather Service issued high wind and fire weather alerts, stating, “30-45 mph winds, gusts up to 60 mph. Secure property, expect outages & difficult travel.“ They also put out a red flag warning of “high fire danger with rapid spread.“

Officials reported that cell phone towers have been destroyed and calls to 9-1-1 are not going through. They also said that helicopters which had earlier been used to help with rescues cannot continue flying amidst the high winds and smoke conditions. 

Six people are known to have died due to the fires and Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said, “We are still in a search and rescue mode, and so I don’t know what will happen to that number.“

Winds on Oahu have also downed power lines and caused traffic problems, and a high wind warning remains in effect for “dangerous weather” across the island chain. 

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For Governor Green and Lt. Governor Luke as they seek to protect the people of Hawaii.
  • For Hawaiian officials as they coordinate with the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and first responders to rescue residents in harm’s way.
  • For the safety of those who are in danger due to the wind, wildfires, and smoke.

Sources: CBS News, Fox News, National Weather Service, NY Times, CNN, Daily Wire, NBC News


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