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Deaths in Maui rise to at least 99 as search goes on in Lahaina

The number of deaths is likely to keep rising as crews scour the ruins. NBC News is on location in Hawaii covering the devastation.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Please click here for the latest updates.

The number of confirmed dead following devastating wildfires on Maui rose Monday to 99, but searchers and cadaver dogs have covered only around a quarter of the town of Lahaina, officials said.

That number is almost certain to rise, in what is being called the largest natural disaster in the history of Hawaii as a U.S. state.

What to know about the wildfires

  • Cadaver dogs are helping search Maui's charred ruins for the missing, and the teams have covered at least 25% of the affected zone.
  • Since the fire that devastated the town of Lahaina, 1 million pounds of food has been delivered.
  • Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said the damage was estimated at close to $6 billion. He said the fires were likely to be the largest natural disaster in the state’s history.
  • NBC News teams are on the ground and reporting from Maui.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said that “there has been a great deal of water conflict on Maui for many years” and that Maui has faced challenges getting enough water to rural areas and to houses.

“We’re in the process of a comprehensive review that I’ve asked our attorney general to do, and there will be multiple reviews at every level to find out what the level of preparedness was,” Green said.

Officials expect to begin identifying those killed Tuesday, if their families have been notified.

Economic cost after Maui fires could trigger local recession, analysis says

The economic damage and cost from the Maui wildfires could be up to $7 billion, Moody’s Analytics said in an initial estimate released today.

The price tag was called “astronomical” in the analysis by Adam Kamins and Katie Nied.

“Losses may be more than enough to suggest a brief but severe local recession,” it says.

The initial estimate is between $3.5 billion to $7 billion in total economic cost, with most of that from losses, the analysis says. Up to $1 billion could be in lost output, it says.

Firefighters say battle was impossible after they ran out of water

Tom Llamas

MAALAEA HARBOR, Hawaii — The wind-fueled wildfire that swept into Lahaina “looked like Armageddon,” Maui firefighter Aina Kohler said.

“Everything happened so fast,” she said. “The winds were the highest I’ve ever felt on Maui, in my life or anywhere in my life. And everything just happened so fast.”

Part of what went wrong in the fire that erupted Tuesday and devastated the town of around 12,000 in West Maui was a lack of a crucial resource: Water.

“We ran out of water,” she said. “We’re on an island, with a limited supply. And that’s what we all talk about all the time, our limited resources.”

Read the full story here.

Hawaii governor says ‘multiple reviews’ will assess preparedness

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said that “there has been a great deal of water conflict on Maui for many years” and that Maui has faced challenges getting enough water to rural areas and to houses.

“We’re in the process of a comprehensive review that I’ve asked our attorney general to do, and there will be multiple reviews at every level to find out what the level of preparedness was,” Green said.

Questions have also been raised about why warning sirens did not sound.

Obama puts out call to make Red Cross donation

More than 50 animals have been rescued

The Maui Humane Society is sending all its dogs and cats to the mainland to make room for pets missing and scattered, an official said.

So far1, 12 of the 52 live animals that have been received since the fire Tuesday are hospitalized with injuries, the humane society's veterinary services director, Kelly Maguire, said at a news conference today.

An estimated 3,000 animals are missing, she said, and there have been many reports of animals in the outskirts of the fire area. Food and water are being placed out for them in the hope they can be trapped and saved, she said.

Officials have reunited eight animals with their owners, she said.

Shelters are being cleared to make room, Maguire said. The 150 cats and kittens that were in the shelter before the fire are being sent to the mainland, she said, and arrangements are being made for 115 dogs. The dogs are with foster families.


Identities of those killed to be released tomorrow

Tomorrow, police in Maui will start releasing the names of those killed in the wildfire that struck the Lahaina area if their families have been notified.

Maui Police Chief John Pelletier today urged patience and respect, warning that if people trespass in burned areas they could be disturbing remains of the dead. One person was arrested for trespassing today, he said.

“I understand that people want numbers. It’s not a numbers game. Right now we’re at 99 souls and families,” Pelletier said.

As of today, 25% of the area has been searched, he said. Twenty dogs are working the area.

Most of the destroyed structures are residential

Around 86% of the more than 2,200 structures that were destroyed in the Maui wildfires are residential, Gov. Josh Green said today.

He said that housing for the displaced has been a priority and that people have taken survivors to their personal homes.

Green asked for patience from the people of the devastated town of Lahaina who want to return because cadaver dogs and searchers are looking for human remains.

“We know that it’s frustrating, but this pace will accelerate,” Green said, including reopening of the road.

Officials have said areas in the burn zone are toxic and dangerous.

Confirmed deaths in Maui rise to 99

The confirmed number of deaths in the Maui wildfires has risen to 99, Gov. Josh Green said today.

“In addition to that, the search goes on,” Green said.

The previous number of confirmed deaths had been 96.

Amid donation bottleneck, officials launch coordinated distribution

State and local officials acknowledged minor backups and bottlenecks as the world responds to the Hawaii fires with tons of donated goods.

Maui was getting 60 to 70 shipping containers filled with donations every day, making sorting and distributing to those most in need a difficult task, Laksmi Abraham of the Maui County mayor's office said.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said at a news conference today announcing a new, coordinated effort to coordinate donations: "There has been such an outpouring of support from around the world. Some of the frustration you’re hearing is because of the lack of coordinated effort."

The website Maui Nui Strong will serve as a voice for survivors, officials announced. It will be able to weigh in about what goods they most need, they said.

So far, officials said, residents were asking for nonperishable protein food products, bottled water, hand-washing stations, tents and battery-based chargers for electronic devices.

As part of the effort to better coordinate donations, a central drop-off location was being moved from the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku to the Sears building in Kahului, officials said. Key nonprofit groups were identified as participants in the distribution effort: They include the Hawaii Community Foundation, the Maui United Way and the Hawaii Food Bank.

Officials hope the reorganized effort will ensure donations do not go unused.

"We need to centralize locations where donations are going to so we can more properly distribute them to the community," Abraham said.

Maui on guard for looters and speculators

Nearly a week after Maui was ravaged by the deadliest wildfires in more than a century and as residents continue to wait for word about their missing loved ones, a new set of problems has emerged: looters and speculators trying to cash in on the tragedy.

A local businessman said people desperate for gas and other scarce items are raiding the few businesses still standing in Lahaina, the historic city that was all but destroyed.

Bryan Sizemore, 48, a commercial sport fisherman and mechanical engineer who has lived on Maui for nearly 20 years, said he recently chased off several looters from his business at gunpoint.

“My boat exploded as a result of the flames, but my business somehow made it. But there’s been looters at my place, people stealing gas,” Sizemore said today. “I’ve been sleeping there in my car. ... They’re poking holes into the gas tanks and draining them off.”

Read the full story here.

Corporate America pitches in for Maui recovery

United Airlines said today it and its customers have donated nearly half a million dollars and 43 million award miles to aid and disaster relief organizations focused on Maui.

It also said it has flown more than 11,000 people who left the island and transported workers and volunteers from the American Red Cross, World Central Kitchen and Airlink, a nonprofit group that provides free flights to disaster response groups.

Also today, T-Mobile announced it set up portable satellite dishes in Kaanapali and Haleakala to temporarily restore service in those areas.

More equipment was expected to arrive later in the day, T-Mobile said, and it would be used to help restore service along the West Maui coastline.

The wireless company said customers with Maui addresses who don't have the company's unlimited talk, text and data upgrade are getting it free through Aug. 21.

Customers can easily donate $10 to organizations helping with recovery and relief in Maui through T-Mobile's "text-to-give" option, it said.

The American Red Cross (text HAWAII to 90999), the Hawaii Community Foundation (text WILDFIRES to 501501), the Salvation Army (text WILDFIRES to 52000) and the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (text CONNECT to 20222) are the latest options for recipients, T-Mobile said.

Search-and-rescue crews on the ground

Hawaii tourism officials: Please stay away from West Maui

In an "urgent travel alert" today, the Maui Visitors Bureau said leisure travel to West Maui is "strongly discouraged."

"The collective resources of the government, the West Maui community, and the travel industry must be focused on the recovery," it said.

The bureau, part of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said would-be travelers can help recovery operations not only by staying away, but also by donating to local relief efforts.

However, it noted that travel to Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi and the Big Island was not affected.

A look at the resources FEMA is providing

WASHINGTON — FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell said the federal government currently has the “right amount of personnel on the ground” in Hawaii to help in the recovery and response efforts from what has become the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history.

Criswell, who joined Monday’s White House press briefing via video from Hawaii, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is focused on getting people critical needs assistance funds, which provides $700 initially for food, water, medical supplies and other needs.

“We know and have let them know that we are mourning with them,” Criswell said of her work with Hawaiians. “Nothing can prepare you for what I saw during my time here, and nothing to prepare them for the emotional toll of the impact that the severe event has taken on them.” 

Read the full story here.

Search teams and dogs have covered 20% of the fire zone

Tom Llamas

Tom Llamas and Dennis Romero

Authorities have searched 20% of the fire-ravaged area in Maui, Police Chief John Pelletier said.

Over the weekend, Pelletier said the search, which is being conducted with dogs, was going slowly because the animals were getting tired from the heat and rough terrain. At that point, only 3% had been covered.

Twenty additional dogs are now helping in the search.

“You can only work as well as the dog will work,” he said.

National service agency AmeriCorps ready to help

AmeriCorps, the national service agency established under President Bill Clinton, said it's prepared to supplement the wildfires response in Maui and help rebuild infrastructure, businesses and homes.

"While all AmeriCorps deployments come at the request of local governments, we are poised and ready to deploy AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams," the agency said in a statement.

AmeriCorps said it is monitoring the situation on Maui, where the fires-related death toll stood at 96 Monday.

"More than 8,000 residents of Hawaii have served with us," it said. "We are prepared and ready to provide any assistance we are able as they respond, recover, and rebuild in the days, months, and years ahead." 

Gov. Green breaks down response by the numbers

Pentagon says active duty forces are ready to assist

The Associated Press

The National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard are assisting with recovery efforts in the communities reeling from fires in Maui, a Defense Department spokesman, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, said today.

However, no active-duty forces are involved yet, Ryder said. That raises questions as to why not — Hawaii is home to tens of thousands of active-duty military personnel, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and major Navy and Air Force installations, with ships and aircraft that could assist in flying in supplies or personnel.

Ryder said those forces are ready to provide whatever support is requested by Hawaii but that rushing in resources too quickly could create additional logistics problems for rescue operations on the ground.

The multiagency fire response has already been stymied by logistical issues and communication challenges, particularly during evacuations when sirens failed to sound and roadblocks hindered residents from leaving.

“Indo-Pacom is on a hair trigger to be able to support as necessary,” Ryder said. “Everyone fully understands the pain that people are experiencing right now. We want to do everything we can help. But we also don’t want to contribute to the problem by sending unnecessary capabilities that then will hinder any type of emergency response.”

So far 250 Hawaii Army National Guard and Air National Guard members are assisting recovery operations, Army National Guard helicopters have dropped more than 189,000 gallons of water on the wildfires, the Army Corps of Engineers has sent debris removal teams and power experts, and the Army Reserve has provided space to collect and distribute supplies, Ryder said.

Couple battled Upcountry fire consuming their house until water gave out

David Douglas

KULA, Hawaii — Gayle and Ross Hart, a couple in their 70s, did their best to fight the Upcountry fire, which consumed their home — until the water pressure gave out and they had no choice but to leave. 

“The only thing standing is our mailbox,” Gayle said. 

She said that the fire crossed a gulch near their home last Tuesday and that despite firemen patrolling the area and the electric company cutting off power, the fire still entered the neighborhood. 

Gayle recounted how kindhearted neighbors banded together to help the couple try to put out the fire when it encroached on their home but had to give up when the water stopped running.

“It just disappeared — like, we just ran out of water,” she recalled. “My husband, I give him credit, he fought the battle until the end. He left about 11 at night. That’s when the water went out and he had to go.”

She said the blaze in her neighborhood started around 11 a.m. Hours later, around 4 to 5 p.m., she got a text to evacuate. They were able to escape with a small bag of clothing, some family pictures and a few other personal items. 

“All my recipes stayed, family heirlooms — stuff from grandparents and stuff — that’s all gone,” she said. “We have a lot more than the people in Lahaina. There was no warning there; it just came.”

Asked about government accountability and whether residents should have been better forewarned, she said: "Now’s not the time to nitpick at what happened. It’s so raw — the deaths, especially in Lahaina."

Despite the heartbreak of losing her home, Gayle is keeping a positive perspective.

“Life is still good in spite of all of this. Just gotta change my direction,” she said.

' I am completely heartbroken': Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson says

Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who is Samoan and spent part of his childhood in Hawaii, said he is "heartbroken" by the wildfires that have ravaged Maui.

“I know that by now all of you around the world have seen the complete destruction and devastation that has hit our Hawaiian islands, our island of Maui. And I am completely heartbroken over this and I know you all of you are, too," he said Sunday in a video on Instagram.

"Thank you guys around the world for all of your love and support, your light, your prayers. Thank you for sending them to the island of Hawaii, the people of Hawaii," he said.

He encouraged his 388 million followers to donate to help displaced victims, noting that he has been speaking to organizations on the ground.

In his caption, he wrote: “All our local families, our ohana, our aiga, stay strong thru this devastating time. Resilience resolve is in our DNA. Our ancestors are in our blood. This is who we are. This is what we do. I love you. Stay strong.” 

National Weather service warned of 'critical' and 'dangerous fire weather scenario' days before wildfires

The National Weather Service had warned for days of high winds and a “critical” and “dangerous fire weather scenario” ahead of the wildfires that erupted on Hawaii.

The most significant of the blazes, which exploded in Lahaina on Maui, ignited last Tuesday.

Nearly one week before, on Aug. 2, the weather service office in Honolulu warned of dry conditions and potentially strong easterly trade winds as Hurricane Dora entered the central Pacific on a westward track. 

By Thursday, Aug. 3, the agency warned “critical fire weather conditions are... a real concern.”

The next day, the office warned a fire weather watch would soon be issued to highlight the threat as winds from Hurricane Dora were expected to come in, the Keetch Byram Drought Index was forecast to reach “the critical 600 mark,” and leeward relative humidity was forecast to fall below 45%.

By Sunday, Aug. 6, the agency set a fire weather watch for Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 7-8, for leeward parts of the island, “where critical fire conditions are most likely to develop.”

The agency warned Sunday that “along with strong winds, very dry air will also be moving into the region, creating significant fire weather concerns as well.”

By Monday the 7th, a high wind warning and a red flag warning — meaning extreme fire behavior was possible — were in place.

The fire in Lahaina broke out early last Tuesday.

As blazes burned in different areas of Maui that day, the red flag warning was extended to 6 a.m. Wednesday because of the continued dry conditions, low humidity and strong and gusty easterly winds.

Maui church unscathed by fires

A Facebook post from St. Anthony Maui Parish showed the church still standing amid the destruction of the wildfires.

"Our Lady of Victory stands," the hopeful post said.

Jason Momoa tells tourists, ‘Do not travel to Maui’

Ariana Brockington, TODAY

Jason Momoa is delivering a stern message to tourists who plan to visit Maui during the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history.

Momoa, 44, a Hawaii native who has been using social media to help with rescue and fundraising efforts, posted his warning Friday on Instagram

“Maui is not the place to have your vacation right now,” he wrote. “DO NOT TRAVEL TO MAUI.”

He continued, “Do not convince yourself that your presence is needed on an island that is suffering this deeply.”

He also thanked everyone who has been sending donations and love to the community as it is being devastated by raging fires. 

Hawaii governor to hold news conference

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green will hold a wildfires news briefing at 3:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. ET), his office said.

Wireless service returning to Maui

Nearly a week since wildfires erupted on Maui, cell service is slowly returning to the island.

Verizon Wireless said service was restored along Highway 37 in Ulupalakua and Keokea and to the Upcountry. Partial service was restored to part of West Maui.

Verizon said that there is “significant” structural damage to cell sites serving Lahaina and that engineers are working to move a mobile cell site to restore partial service. More disaster response engineers landed Sunday in Maui. 

Meanwhile, AT&T said it restored a cell site in north Kaanapali using a portable satellite, and an AT&T drone operations pilot is on Maui to assess any damage to cell sites using a camera drone. 

T-Mobile’s emergency teams are also working to restore connectivity in Maui. Over the weekend, the company said it restored connection to sites in Kaanapali and Haleakalā, “with teams continuing to evaluate impacted sites.”

“The team deployed generators and VSATs (Very Small Aperture Terminals) — portable satellite solutions — to restore connectivity where the fire damaged local fiber connections and commercial power outages are impacting permanent cell sites,” the company said in an update Monday. “Additional microwave and satellite equipment is expected to arrive in Maui today, and the team is focused on providing connectivity to Maui’s west coast.”

‘This is just the first step in a difficult recovery process’: FEMA official

Jeremy Greenberg, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Office of Response and Recovery, shared a breakdown of what has been done so far in Maui.

FEMA has a permanent logistics distribution center in Hawaii and immediately after the incident occurred, started moving commodities such as food and water, protective masks, shelter equipment into Maui to support the state of Hawaii,” he said today on MSNBC.

FEMA has over 250 personnel on the ground, with 50 to 60 working in shelters and with survivors to register them for FEMA assistance, he said, which will help those who have lost their homes.

“I know that this is just the first step in a difficult recovery process,” Greenberg said.

He said the fast-moving nature of the blazes that erupted at the late hour posed challenges for first responders. 

“There’ll be a long-term recovery aspect to this certainly, but that’s why FEMA and the entire federal government are working with the state to prioritize getting everyone who’s impacted by this the assistance they need.”

For FEMA Assistance, contact (800) 621-3362 or go to FEMA’s website

Cadaver dogs have surveyed 3% of area to be searched on Maui

Tom Llamas

Teams of cadaver dogs have surveyed just 3% of the area to be searched on devastated Maui, Police Chief John Pelletier has said.

At a news conference over the weekend, Pelletier said, “3%, that’s what’s been searched with the dogs, 3%," referring to search teams with cadaver dogs that arrived Saturday in Maui and were scouring the areas devastated by last week’s wildfires.

“For the first few days, we had done searches of the streets and the cars in the area, but we couldn’t enter any structures,” Pelletier told NBC News. “My police officers are trained to go chase bad guys, respond to robberies, take reports. But they are not trained to enter shouldering structures to go look for human remains.”

How to help those affected by the Maui fires

NBC News

Hawaii officials say the best way to assist Maui wildfire victims is to donate money. 

Here’s a list of credible relief organizations accepting donations:

Hawaii Community Foundation

Gov. Josh Green shared a link to donations to the foundation’s “Maui Strong” fund Thursday. The fund aims to provide community resilience with resources for disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

American Red Cross of Hawaii

The American Red Cross’s donations will help those displaced by the wildfire find safe shelters where they can get information and hot meals, charge their phones, pick up relief supplies and get health services. 

Aloha United Way

Aloha United Way, a nonprofit organization based in Honolulu, has created the Maui Fire Relief Fund, with donations going directly toward efforts that support victims of the fires.

Maui Humane Society

The Maui Humane Society is accepting donations on its website and on Facebook to help feed and care for displaced pets, many of whom need medical treatment.

Read our full list here.

Supplies remain lacking, Kaanapali resident says

David Douglas

A Kaanapali resident said overnight that basic supplies remain lacking and not much had improved over the weekend.

“We need doctors! We need medicine," Albena Leon said.

She said a low-flying airplane with a loudspeaker notified residents yesterday that a market had reopened.

Residents have been running supply deliveries to a local beach using boats and jet skis, but they, too, are quickly snapped up.

“The majority came from within our island, and it looks like we have a lot one minute and then poof it’s all gone,” Leon said. “We’re rationing so that we have enough till tomorrow.”

Still, her spirit remained bright. "I have never seen in my lifetime of 54 years such an amazing group of people — our Ohana — pooling together and sharing their last food or water or medicine to help a stranger. The other islands have also come to our rescue and keep coming," she said.

Residents speak about narrowly escaping flames

A 73-year-old resident said her face and arm were burned when she frantically escaped the wildfires that tore through Maui last week.

She told NBC's Tom Llamas in an interview this morning on "TODAY" that she got no kind of alert to evacuate when the flames tore through her area.

Now she's searching for her brother, who is still missing.

“I’m so worried about everybody. Hopefully he’s still alive," she said.

The death toll is only expected to mount as just 3% of Lahaina has been searched, with much of the operation first focused on streets and cars in the area.

Noah Tomkinson, 19, and his 13-year-old brother, Milo, spent hours in the water with their mother escaping the flames.

Harrowing video show his family in the ocean not far from the shore i fierce winds. Orange flames can be seen not so far away on land, and the sky is filled with black smoke.

Tomkinson said they focused on keeping their mother warm as they waited for the blaze to die down.

“We kind of, like, all huddled around her and just wanted to keep her warm,” he said. “If any of us were alone, I don't know if we would have made it.”

'We're soon heading to recovery phase,' Hawaii official says

Retired Maj. Jeff Hickman, a spokesperson for Hawaii’s Department of Defense, said this morning on NBC’s “TODAY” show that search-and-response efforts are ramping up and that Maui will soon be heading into the recovery phase — “and that’s going to be the longest phase yet.”

He said the number of casualties is likely to rise above the latest count of 96. 

“We only have 3% of the search done, and they want to be meticulous and do it right. So right now they’re going street by street and block by block. They’re doing cars, and soon they’ll start to enter buildings,” he said.

Hickman said that the Hawaii National Guard has over 110 personnel assisting with search and rescue in Maui County and that FEMA has about 400 personnel with cadaver dogs.

"So the efforts are going to start to move a little faster than they have the past couple days, and hopefully we bring some closure to those on Maui,” he said.

Asked whether power should have been cut earlier to slow the rampant spread of the wildfires last week, Hickman said he couldn’t comment directly, but he said an investigation would take place. 

“The governor and the state attorney general is going to have a comprehensive review on what is the cause behind this fire and what steps were taken, but right now our focus is on the priority of Maui. Right now it's the needs of the people of Maui,” he said.

Hawaii resident angry with authorities for failing to warn the public

A Hawaii resident said he was angry with the government for failing to activate sirens and deliver proper alarms for residents to evacuate.

“No alarms, no warning, nothing,” Rafa Ochoa told NBC’s “Nightly News,” “not even police rolling by telling us to evacuation or anything.”

The Hawaii Emergency Services Administration said Friday that no outdoor warning sirens were triggered by either Maui or Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re mad,” Ochoa said with tears in his eyes. “We lost our homes. We lost our town. Lost history. Our kids are traumatized. You guys messed up real bad.”

Hawaiian restaurant in Seattle raises tens of thousands of dollars for fire aid

Marination, one of the most popular Hawaiian restaurants in Seattle, raised around $40,000 over the weekend for people affected by the wildfires, NBC affiliate KING of Seattle reported.

The restaurant's co-owner Kamala Saxton said she wanted to send help to Maui after she saw the heartbreaking destruction. So she decided to sell over 3,000 Spam musubi, an iconic Hawaiian snack, at $4.75 each this weekend to raise money.

“Seeing Spam musubi almost makes you feel at home,” Saxton said. “Then you eat and you’re like this is a piece of home. This is something that just brings you back to your childhood, back to family gatherings, back to luaus.”

She donated all the money to Maui Rapid Response and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, organizations supporting the front-line emergency response, KING reported.

“We are keeping them in our thoughts,” Saxton added. “We are doing everything we can to help them, and this is just the start, and it won’t stop. We feel their pain, and we are with them.”

Fire in Maui traveled '1 mile every minute,' governor says

The “fire hurricane” in Maui spread at the rate of 1 mile per minute and destroyed the town of Lahaina on the island, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said in a video statement yesterday.

“There is very little left there,” he said in the video, which was posted yesterday afternoon. “Over 2,700 structures were destroyed in Lahaina, and an estimated value of $5.6 billion has gone away.

“But mostly there are people [who] are suffering, and we continue to work to find them,” he added.

An aerial view of Lahaina devestation.
Buildings smolder in Lahaina on Maui last week.Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A fire travels at this rate mainly because of the wind gusts, which officials believe were up to 81 mph, Green said.

“With those kinds of winds and 1,000-degree temperature, ultimately all the pictures that you will see will be easy to understand,” he said, “because that level of destruction and a fire hurricane — something new to us in the age of global warming — was the ultimate reason that so many people perished.”

Amid devastation, Maui fire survivors heal through faith and music

Most schools in Maui will reopen this week

Most Maui schools will welcome their employees today and students on Wednesday, but West Maui schools and King Kekaulike High in Upcountry will remain closed, according to a letter yesterday from the state Education Department to students, families and employees.

“Our hearts are heavy, and the road to recovery will be long, but I have faith in our collective strength to support one another and our students,” Superintendent Keith Hayashi wrote in the letter. “Together, we will heal, we will rebuild and Lāhainā and Maui will thrive once more.”

Hayashi also said that King Kamehameha III Elementary in Lahaina was “damaged beyond repair” and that the department is still looking for options for students in West Maui.

Although schools in West Maui will not reopen until it is safe for students to return, the department highly encouraged students displaced by the fires to enroll in neighboring schools, albeit with temporary housing.

“When children are in school, we can provide support including meals and health support,” Hayashi wrote.

Around 85% of the fire in Lahaina has been contained, officials say

Around 85% of the wildfire in Lahaina has been contained, and the estimated size of the areas that have been suppressed is 2,170 acres, according to the latest update from Maui County.

The county also reported that 60% of the fire in the Upcountry area has been contained and that 100% of the fire in the Pulehu region has been contained.

Hawaii officials urge tourists to avoid traveling to Maui as many hotels prepare to house evacuees and first responders on the island where a wildfire demolished a historic town and killed dozens.
Destroyed homes and cars in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Sunday. Rick Bowmer / AP

However, it also warned residents that the fire could not be declared “extinguished” even though it was 100% contained and that it could be declared “extinguished” only when the firefighters had confirmed there was nothing left to burn.

The news release was issued at 9:45 last night (3:45 a.m. ET today).

Power restored to 60% of Maui customers, utility says

Power has been restored to around 5,000 customers in West Maui and Upcountry, Hawaiian Electric said in its latest update at 1 p.m. (6 p.m. ET yesterday.

Since Tuesday, more than 60% of its customers have been brought back online, the update said.

More than 300 Hawaiian Electric Co. employees and contractors are working to restore power in West Maui and Upcountry, and other employees in neighboring areas are available to help facilitate restoration, it said.

Hawaiian Electric also warned residents to be alert when they see downed power lines and to stay away from them.

‘A fire that melted metal’: Hawaii’s wildfire is deadliest in 100 years

Breaking: Death toll rises to 96

The number of people confirmed to have died in the fires has risen to 96, according to a news release this morning from Maui County.

The update was as of 9:45 last night (3:45 a.m. ET today).

Governor issues fifth proclamation relating to wildfires

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green issued the fifth emergency proclamation yesterday about the wildfires.

The proclamation extends the disaster emergency relief period until Aug. 31.

Maui County firefighters fight flare-up fires on the island
Maui County firefighters fight flare-up fires in a canyon in Kula, Hawaii, on Sunday. Mike Blake / Reuters

It allows health workers from other states and former professionals without valid licenses (except for misconduct) to practice on Maui. It also removed the $10 million limit for the Major Disasters Fund.

It strongly discourages “all nonessential travel” to West Maui during the period of the proclamation to accommodate displaced residents and emergency workers.

Survivors frustrated over restricted access to Lahaina burn zone

Death toll at 93 as search for missing goes on

Max Burman

The confirmed number of people killed stands at 93 this morning as crews search the charred ruins on Maui for signs of those still missing.

Officials have said they expect the death toll to increase as remains are found.