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UPDATE (August 15, 2023 9:50 PM PST) -- The County of Maui Hawaii issued a press release confirming the first two identifications of the wildfire victims, Lahaina residents Robert Dyckman and Buddy Jantoc. Also in the release, the county confirmed that there have been 114 human remains recovered that are still awaiting identification.
UPDATE (August 15, 2023 2:00 PM PST) -- According to sources, the death toll has raised to "at least 99" lives lost in the Maui wildfires, and the death toll is expected to climb, as only 25% of the burn area has been searched.
MAUI, HI —80 individuals lost their lives in the Maui wildfires that ravaged parts of Maui County, according to local officials. The already dangerous fires were fanned by the residual winds of Hurricane Dora.
The larger fire began when several different fires in the central region of Maui merged and quickly spread, consuming thousands of acres of land. The rapid progression of the fire caught many off guard, resulting in the unfortunate loss of 114 lives. Officials are yet to release the identities of the deceased, but the tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of natural disasters.
According to Hawaii News Now, the high winds from Hurricane Dora blew down power lines. For the Hawaii wildfire attorneys at Singleton Schreiber, this is not a new story.
Emergency services rushed to the scene, fighting against time and nature to contain the blaze. The winds from the hurricane made it challenging to control the wildfire. As a result, numerous properties were also consumed by the flames, causing significant damage to the region's infrastructure and to residents' homes. Preliminary reports suggest that the cost of the damage could run into millions of dollars. In addition to the lives lost, several individuals were injured and are currently receiving treatment at local hospitals. The exact number of injured individuals and the extent of their injuries are yet to be ascertained.
The fire became so dangerous that people were jumping into the ocean to avoid the flames and smoke. Local Hawaii authorities were actually asking boat owners to go to the area of the fire to help those who jumped into the ocean.
In fact, people are being flown off island to Oahu because the hospitals in Maui are overrun. Some of those injuries are due to burns, others due to smoke inhalation. The main region of the fire is in Lahaina Town, which is in the north of Maui. This is a highly touristy area, especially Front Street, with popular shopping and dining spots spread throughout. But now, Maui County officials have told people not to go to Lahaina Town.
Fire litigation attorney Gerald Singleton, known for his work on wildfire cases, expressed his heartfelt sympathy for the situation, stating, "It's heart-wrenching to witness such a catastrophe. My deepest condolences go out to the families of the deceased, and my thoughts are with those injured and everyone affected by this disaster."
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, who commands the Hawaii Army National Guard, said they did not know what initially ignited the fires, but that there had been a red flag situation for some time due to the long-standing dry conditions. Mixed with high winds and low humidity, the stage was set for disaster.
According to CBS News, 85% of the wildfires in the United States are started by humans, including irresponsible behavior, arson, and utility negligence.
Hawaii, with its lush landscapes and tropical climate, is not commonly associated with wildfires. However, the islands have seen their fair share of blazes in recent years. The combination of invasive grasses, dry spells, and occasional strong winds can create an environment ripe for fires. The state's unique topography, with its valleys and mountainous regions, can at times accelerate the spread of wildfires. Recent statistics indicate that thousands of acres are affected by wildfires in Hawaii annually, causing significant ecological and economic damage. Climate change, urban sprawl, and inadequate land management practices further exacerbate the issue.
The aftermath of Hurricane Dora, which passed through the region recently, created an unexpected challenge for Maui. Hurricanes typically bring wet conditions, but the strong winds in Dora's wake combined with the existing dryness, gave the fire an added push.
Residents are now grappling with the devastating impact; many are lamenting the loss of their homes and the irreplaceable memories they held. As the community comes together to rebuild, the focus remains on supporting the affected families and ensuring the safety of everyone in the region.
Premier Wildfire Attorneys
With over 200 employees, Singleton Schreiber has represented more than 12,000 victims of utility fires and has recovered approximately $2.5 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients.
This is attorney advertising material. Paul Starita (7624) and Julia Bryant (11594) are licensed Hawaii attorneys who are responsible for this attorney advertising material.
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