Wildfires driven by strong winds from Hurricane Dora have swept through multiple areas of Hawaii, leading to hundreds of evacuations, power outages, and widespread destruction. The fires have affected the regions of Lahaina, Kula, and Kihei on the island of Maui. County officials reported that the flames have consumed numerous structures, and multiple evacuation orders are in place. The National Weather Service attributed the intense fires to a combination of powerful winds produced by Hurricane Dora and low humidity levels.
Emergency crews, including the Coast Guard, have been responding to the crisis. Residents were seen entering the ocean to escape the smoke and fire, leading to Coast Guard rescue operations. In Lahaina, buildings on both sides of the street were engulfed in flames. While no injuries were reported, the Red Cross opened several emergency shelters for displaced residents.
Power outages affected more than 14,000 customers in Maui County, and even 911 service in West Maui became unavailable due to the situation. Evacuation orders faced challenges in Lahaina due to the absence of cell service and limited functioning landlines. The island of Oahu, which includes Honolulu, also experienced power outages, downed power lines, and traffic disruptions.
The fires, fueled by strong winds reaching up to 80 mph, made aerial firefighting efforts difficult. Helicopters were unable to drop water on the fires or accurately gauge their sizes due to the high winds. A high wind warning and red flag warning for dangerous fire weather remained in effect. Additionally, the Big Island of Hawaii also faced wildfires, and firefighters struggled with the winds hindering containment efforts. As the situation continues to unfold, efforts are underway to protect homes, communities, and critical infrastructure across affected areas.
Image credits; Picryl