August 13, 2023 Maui wildfire news

By Amir Vera, Matt Meyer and Helen Regan, CNN

Updated 5:40 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023
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4:46 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

Breaking: Death toll from Maui fires rises to 96  

From CNN's Michelle Watson  

An aerial image taken on August 10 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii.
An aerial image taken on August 10 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The death toll from the Maui wildfires is now at 96 as of Sunday at 9:45 p.m. local time (3:45 a.m. ET) according to a news release from Maui County.  

"Maui Police Department around 9 p.m. said there are 96 confirmed fatalities," the release said

3:46 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

"My entire town has been destroyed," says Lahaina resident who lost his home

From CNN staff

Ryan Valliere speaks via Skype during an interview with CNN.
Ryan Valliere speaks via Skype during an interview with CNN. CNN

Lahaina resident Ryan Valliere told CNN that his community will be able to rebuild following the devastating fires but it will take a long time and require the right people and resources. 

“The infrastructure has been destroyed really, the whole town is gone. When you drive past it, it's like my entire town has been basically destroyed,” Valliere said. 
“I do believe that with the people that we have, and the efforts come in we will be able to rebuild and restore what has been lost and stolen and destroyed in the fire. But it is going to take a long time and it is going to take the right people bringing in the right aid and the right support for the community — emotionally spiritually, financially.”

Valliere said he lost his house in the fire and hasn’t been able to get back to see what remains as authorities have the area "closed down."

“My house was the last house on Front Street which is on the very front of Lahaina and so we were the last house to burn down in that section that burned on Tuesday,” he said. 

Valliere said residents are in need of "crisis counseling and prayer, and love and support."

"There are a lot of people who are very shaken up," he said. "Obviously many of our friends and families have lost lives and homes, pets. It looks like an apocalyptic scene in there, driving through it yesterday. Seeing the photos and videos of my house. It looks like a scene out of a war movie."
2:33 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

Tropical storm forecast to stay weak as it moves south of Hawaii

From CNN's Robert Shackelford

A tropical depression has formed in the far west of the East Pacific and will potentially pass south of Hawaii as a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The depression is expected to strengthen in the next few hours, taking the name Tropical Storm Greg, before heading west and potentially passing south of Hawaii on Wednesday or Thursday. 

Even though the storm is forecast to pass south of Hawaii like Hurricane Dora, the situation will be much less severe, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Honolulu.

"This scenario continues to appear significantly different than what was experienced during Dora. The winds are expected to be much weaker," NWS said.

"Breezy winds": The high pressure north of Hawaii is much further north compared to the high pressure that was present when Dora passed south of the islands. Also, the tropical storm is only expected to pass south of the islands, at a much weaker strength than Dora. These factors will lead to only breezy winds Tuesday through Thursday, according to CNN meteorologists.

2:27 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

Hawaii governor issues fifth emergency proclamation for wildfires  

From CNN's Michelle Watson  

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has issued his fifth proclamation for wildfires in the state, a release from his office said Sunday.

The proclamation, "allows pharmacists to refill prescriptions for people directly affected by the wildfire emergency with up to a 30-day supply, even when the pharmacist is unable to obtain refill authorization from the prescriber."

It also "lifts the $10 million cap on expenditures from the Major Disaster Fund to respond to this emergency," the release said.  

The proclamation extends the disaster emergency relief period to the end of the month, the release said.  

2:19 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

As Maui reels from deadly wildfires, it's unclear how many people remain missing

From CNN's Nouran Salahieh

Destroyed homes and cars are seen in Lahaina, Hawaii on  August 13.
Destroyed homes and cars are seen in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 13. Rick Bowmer/AP

Crews in West Maui are continuing the heart-wrenching work of sifting through the ashes of what used to be homes and beloved landmarks wiped out by the deadliest US wildfire in more than 100 years.

So far, at least 93 deaths have been confirmed and there’s still people unaccounted for as search teams look for remains in decimated neighborhoods.

The devastation is what’s left behind after multiple, simultaneous wildfires began spreading erratically Tuesday, suddenly jumping onto and engulfing homes, forcing harrowing escapes and displacing thousands.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday said it was premature to assign even an approximate dollar amount to the damage done on Maui, the governor estimated “the losses approach $6 billion.”

Even as authorities take stock of the losses and work gets underway to identify lost loved ones, the firefight hasn’t stopped.

  • Lahaina is hardest hit: Around 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fires in western Maui, where the hard-hit historic town of Lahaina is located, according to Hawaii Gov. Josh Green. About 86% of the structures were residential, he added. The devastation has displaced thousands of people. As of Friday night, a total of 1,418 people were at emergency evacuation shelters, according to Maui County officials.
  • Identifying all the victims won't be easy: Of the dozens found dead across the burn area, only two people had been identified as of Saturday, according to Maui County. “The remains we’re finding is through a fire that melted metal. We have to do rapid DNA to identify everyone,” Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said Saturday. He urged those with missing family members to contact authorities to coordinate a DNA test to assist in the identification process.
  • People are still missing: As searches of the burned ruins continue, officials warn they do not know exactly how many people are still missing in the torched areas. As of Saturday night, just 3% of the fire zone had been searched with cadaver dogs, Pelletier said, adding, “None of us really know the size of it yet.” While some have turned up in shelters, there are still families desperately searching for loved ones.

Read more here.

2:07 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

Power restored to more than 60% of Hawaiian Electric customers, company says

From CNN's Michelle Watson  

Power has been restored to more than 60% of Hawaiian Electric customers, the company said in a news release Sunday.  

"Hawaiian Electric restoration crews have brought back online more than 60% of customers who have been without electricity since Tuesday and are continuing work to restore approximately 5,000 customers in West Maui and Upcountry," the release said.

Hawaiian Electric warned customers to expect some intermittent outages once the power comes back on.

"All Maui customers are asked to be mindful of their use of electricity and conserve by limiting non-essential uses," the company said.  

At height of the outage, more than 14,000 customers were without power, CNN previously reported.  

1:59 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

Most schools on Maui to begin reopening Monday but West Maui remains closed

From CNN’s Amanda Jackson

School buses used as emergency shuttles are seen at the Maui airport in Kahului, Hawaii, on August 10.
School buses used as emergency shuttles are seen at the Maui airport in Kahului, Hawaii, on August 10. Claire Rush/AP

Staff at most of Maui’s public schools will return to campus Monday for the first time since wildfires devastated the island.

Hawaii's Department of Education is beginning phased reopenings but schools in West Maui and the King Kekaulike High in Upcountry will remain closed.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the strength, leadership and courage you’ve shown throughout this tragedy that has shaken Lāhainā, our Maui communities and all of Hawai‘i,” said Superintendent Keith Hayashi in a letter to staff and students Sunday. “The loss you are experiencing is unimaginable — the loss of loved ones, of homes and neighborhoods, of a school and a community.”

Staff at public schools in Upcountry, South and Central Maui will report to campus on Monday with students returning Wednesday.

“This staggered schedule will allow school teams time to assess damage and staffing capacity to ensure a safe reopening,” the education department said in a news release Friday.

Hayashi said one school on Front Street in Lahaina was "damaged beyond repair."

"While assessments are being made about the closed campuses, we are looking at other options for our students who remain in West Maui including our King Kamehameha III Elementary students," Hayashi said.

With West Maui schools closed, Hawaii's education department and Hayashi encouraged displaced families to reenroll their students in the nearest school, even temporarily.

“When children are in school, we can provide support including meals and mental health support,” Hayashi said.
1:00 a.m. ET, August 14, 2023

It's evening in Hawaii. Here's the latest on the devastating Maui wildfires

From CNN staff

Burned houses and buildings are pictured in the aftermath of a wildfire, in Lahaina, western Maui, Hawaii on August 12.
Burned houses and buildings are pictured in the aftermath of a wildfire, in Lahaina, western Maui, Hawaii on August 12. Yuki Iwamura/AFP/Getty Images

The official death toll from the wildfires on Maui remains at 93, but there are warnings it could rise further. The blaze that devastated the historic town of Lahaina is now the deadliest US wildfire in over 100 years, officials said.

If you are just joining us, here's the latest:

  • Worst in a century: According to research from the National Fire Protection Association, the fire in Lahaina is the fifth deadliest in US history and the worst since the 1918 Cloquet fire in Minnesota. But officials warn the death toll is expected to rise further. “None of us really know the size of it yet,” Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said.
  • Containing the flames: Firefighters have made some progress on the three largest wildfires that crews have been combating on Maui. The deadly fire in hard-hit Lahaina is 85% contained, while the Upcountry-Kula fire is 60% contained. The Pulehu-Kihei fire remains 100% contained but is not yet extinguished, according to the Maui County government.
  • Legal action filed: A lawsuit filed against Hawaii’s main electric provider alleges that electrified power lines blown over by high winds during Hurricane Dora led to the spread of the deadly Lahaina wildfire. The complaint was filed by three law firms on behalf of a couple living in Lahaina against Hawaiian Electric Industries and three subsidiaries, including the power utility that services Maui. The new lawsuit does not state exactly how the power lines allegedly ignited the wildfire and an official cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.
  • Speed of wildfire: The Lahaina wildfire on Maui traveled at an extraordinary speed of "one mile every minute," Hawaii's governor said Sunday. "When the winds rose up... fires spread rapidly,” Gov. Josh Green said.
  • Housing for displaced: Green said work is being ramped up to get displaced Lahaina residents into temporary residences, with more than 500 hotel rooms obtained with government subsidies. The governor said rental homes, including with Airbnb, will also be employed to help evacuees find temporary homes. The fires have displaced thousands of people. More than 1,400 people are at emergency evacuation shelters, according to Maui County officials.
  • Disaster response under review: US Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told CNN she won't make "any excuses" for the tragedy as the state launches a formal review of its emergency response, including why it did not activate an extensive warning siren system. Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez will lead the review of officials’ response to the catastrophic wildfires. “My Department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review,” Lopez said in a statement.