The death toll in the Maui wildfire keeps mounting as search teams and their cadaver dogs continue the grim work of sifting through the ruins of burned buildings that once made up vibrant communities on island – including the picturesque town of Lahaina.
At least 89 people have died in the fires as of Saturday night, Gov. Josh Green said, and the death toll is expected to increase. The fire is now the deadliest US wildfire in more than 100 years, according to research from the National Fire Protection Association.
Firefighters have made some progress in containing the blazes, which have leveled entire communities, but officials warn they do not know exactly how many people are still missing after wildfires earlier this week began eating through neighborhoods in western Maui.
The blazes, fanned by powerful winds from Hurricane Dora hundreds of miles offshore, have become the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii since statehood in 1959.
As of Friday evening local time, all three fires were still active after initial reports came Tuesday. And while there have been some improvements in containment, the risk of flare-ups remains.
People in Kaanapali were evacuating Friday night after spotting a fire in the neighborhood, which is about 4 miles north of hard-hit Lahaina, Maui police said. The fire was later 100% contained, according to county officials.
Of the three largest wildfires that crews have been combating, the deadly fire in Lahaina was 85% contained, Maui County officials said Friday afternoon, up from 80% reported the day before.
The Pulehu fire – located farther east in Kihei – was 80% contained Friday, another sign of improvement from 70% on Thursday, officials noted. A third inferno in the hills of Maui’s central Upcountry was 50% contained on Friday, officials said.