Wildfire roars through Hawaii’s historic Lahaina

At least 111 people have died as a result of the fast-moving Maui wildfires that caused widespread destruction in the town of Lahaina.

As search efforts are underway, many have criticised Maui officials for not sounding alarms that would have indicated to residents there was an imminent threat.

However, Maui County Emergency Management Agency administrator Herman Andaya said he does not regret not sounding the sirens because they may not have saved lives.

“Had we sounded the siren that night, we were afraid that people would have gone mauka (to the mountainside),” Mr Andaya said in a press conference on Wednesday

Mr Andaya said the sirens are typically used in the event of a tsunami and the public is trained to seek higher ground when they are sounded.

“And if that’s the case, then they would have gone into the fire.”

The official cause of the fires is still yet to be determined but security footage of a tree falling on a power line at a Maui bird sanctuary is being investigated as a possible trigger. Others point to the role of downed power lines elsewhere on the island and flammable grasses.


Why officials did not sound outdoor alarms

On Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency website, it indicates that their outdoor siren system can be used for hurricanes, dam breaches, flooding, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, terrorist threats, hazardous material incidents and more.

Despite this, both Governor Josh Green and Maui County Emergency Management Agency administrator Herman Andaya say the siren would not have been useful if it was sounded before the fires.

Both Mr Green and Mr Andaya said the siren is advertised as being used almost exclusively for tsunamis – especially for beachside neighbourhoods and towns.

Mr Green said when he first moved to Hawaii he was always told, “If you hear a siren it’s a tsunami you go to high ground.”

That single-minded approach to the sirens has proven dangerous after the Maui wildfires. Mr Green said going forward they are going to find new ways to keep the public informed about incoming disasters.

“We’re performing a comprehensive review to find out what the safest and most effective, science-based way is to protect people,” Mr Green told reporters.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 17:30


Video shows volunteers lining up to assist West Maui

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 17:00


Officials release three more names of victims

On Wednesday evening, the County of Maui released three more names of victims who died in the wildfires.

Melva Benjamin (71) of Lahaina

Virginia Dofa (90) of Lahaina

Alfredo Galinato (79) of Lahaina

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 16:40


What items to donate to the people of Maui

State and local officials have given a list of donation priorities for the people of Maui, according to Hawaii News Now.

First and foremost, officials are asking people not to ship donated items to Hawaii unless they have a specific person who can be on the receiving end of it. If you have items to donate, use the Hawaii Community Foundation and Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

In-demand donations include non-perishable foods, specifically protein and vegetables, water, water totes, outdoor sinks, wheelchairs and tents.

People are asking to not donate any more clothing as there is a surplus.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 16:10


National Weather Service says expect ‘no impacts’ due to tropical storm

A tropical storm approximately 530 miles off the coast of Hawaii is not expected to impact the island, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The NWS said Tropical Storm Greg is expected to pass through the Central Pacific, south of Hawaii.

Another tropical storm, named Fernanda, is expected to weaken but bring some rain or wind.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 15:45


Maui officials say they do not regret not sounding sirens before wildfires

Reports have emerged indicating residents in Lahaina and Maui received no warning about the fast-moving wildfires that killed at least 111 people – leading to criticism of Maui officials.

But those officials are saying sounding the alarms may not have been helpful.

Maui County Emergency Management Agency administrator, Herman Andaya, told reporters on Wednesday that he does not have regrets about not sounding the alarms

“Had we sounded the siren that night, we were afraid that people would have gone mauka (to the mountainside),” Mr Andaya said.

Mr Andaya said the sirens are used, typically, for a tsunami and the public is trained to seek higher ground when they are alerted.

Mr Andaya added: “And if that’s the case, then they would have gone into the fire.”

An investigation into the cause of the wildfires and how officials handled the response is underway.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 15:20


Lahaina fire has ‘no active threats’ at this time

The wildfire in Lahaina, Maui is 89 per cent contained, the County of Maui said on Wednesday evening.

“There are no active threats at this time,” officials wrote on the County of Maui Facebook page.

The fire has burned an estimated 2,170 acres in Lahaina.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 14:45


Biden issues message to people of Maui on ‘Good Morning America’

President Joe Biden recorded a special message for the of Maui, Hawaii insisting he will be there help them “recover, rebuild and grieve.”

Thursday morning, Good Morning America dedicated its broadcast to the wildfires with a “Maui Strong” special.

During the special, Mr Biden promised residents of Maui, “we’ll be with you for as long as it takes.”

The President is expected to visit Maui on Monday alongside First Lady Jill Biden to meet with officials, survivors and volunteers.

“Jill and I will travel to Hawaii to convey, in person, our grief and solidarity and commitment to the people of Maui,” Mr Biden said.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 14:25


Voices: Biden got a ‘3am phone call’ moment on Hawaii – he swung and he missed

The outrage that followed is a lesson for White House staffers and their campaign team counterparts: your boss is never off the clock. At any given moment, a crisis can unfold somewhere in America — or elsewhere — and demand a response from the president, informed by his staff and articulated by communications professionals.

An unrealistic expectation, sure. But that’s the world we live in, where presidents are expected to be ready to take that 3am phone call, even if it disrupts a vacation during a rare break in the summer heat wave. Part of it can be blamed on the expectations past presidential contenders put on the job, for good or ill, while much of it is also a creation of the 24/7 news cycle that has taken hold of Washington.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 14:00


Karine Jean-Pierre defends accusations Biden ignored Hawaii wildfires: ‘He has been talking about this’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pushed back on accusations that President Joe Biden failed to address the Hawaii wildfires saying Mr Biden “has been talking about this.”

Ms Jean-Pierre joined CNN host Phil Mattingly on Wednesday morning to speak about Mr Biden’s efforts in Hawaii, hours after she confirmed that the President and First Lady Jill Biden would visit Maui on Monday.

As soon as Ms Jean-Pierre joined the show, Mr Mattingly asked why Mr Biden chose not to address the wildfires in Hawaii for a week. He claimed Mr Biden spoke about the fires for the first time on Tuesday during a speech in Milwaukee.

Ms Jean-Pierre sharply responded to Mr Mattingly’s accusations with, “I would disagree with that.”

“When I was with [the President] out there in Utah, he was there to talk about the PACT Act…. at the top of his remarks he talked about what was going on in Hawaii and how we were moving forward with the federal whole of government response. So he has been talking about this,” Ms Jean-Pierre said.

Ariana Baio17 August 2023 13:20

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