Nearly a week after Maui wildfire, islanders survey the aftermath and look ahead to long recovery
Aug 14, 2023, 9:20 PM
The wildfire that swept across Maui nearly a week ago turned one of the nation’s most celebrated island vistas into an ashen moonscape and killed at least 99 people, a number that officials warn could rise by scores as the search continues.
The deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century devoured homes and businesses, blackened cars and left only ruins where thriving neighborhoods once stood. In some places, the flames advanced as fast as a car at highway speed — a mile a minute.
The most serious blaze swept into Lahaina on Tuesday and destroyed nearly every building in the town of 13,000. When the flames were out and the smoke cleared, all that remained was a grid of gray rubble wedged between the blue ocean and lush green slopes.
Now begins a long recovery as survivors mourn the dead, search teams look for more victims in the charred debris and families try to begin anew.
The cause of the wildfire is under investigation. Fueled by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, the flames raced through parched brush covering the island.
The fire was Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster in decades, surpassing a 1960 tsunami that killed 61 people. A tsunami in 1946 killed more than 150 on the Big Island.