Travelers told not to visit Maui after devastating firestorm tragedy

More than 11,000 tourists have been evacuated to other islands as the untamed fires continue. Hawaii officials are asking tourists to not visit Maui during this tragic situation fueled by winds from Hurricane Dora.

MAUI, Hawaii – Thousands of people on Maui are waiting to learn if their homes are still standing as uncontrolled wildfires fueled by winds from Hurricane Dora created a deadly firestorm, and tourists are being told to stay away. 

The Kahului Airport in Maui was crowded early Thursday as people waited to get off the island. 

Southwest Airlines has added more flights between the island back to the mainland this week to help get people and supplies back and forth. 

As the firefight and rescue efforts continue, officials and emergency managers in Hawaii are asking travelers not to attempt trips to Maui.


"If people are thinking about visiting Maui right now, it is simply not the right time; officials are essentially telling people to stay away," FOX Weather Correspondent Max Gorden said.

Gorden said the wildfire flames could be seen flying into Kahului Airport early Thursday. 

The Maui town of Lahaina has been completely leveled by the firestorm. Blocks of homes and businesses in Lahaina are gone. 

Gorden spoke to some survivors who were forced to jump into the water as the flames closed in on the Lahaina Harbor. 

"I was the last one off the dock when the firestorm came through the banyan tree and took everything with it," Lahaina Harbor Crew member Dustin Johnson said. "I just ran out to the beach and I ran south, and I just helped everybody I could along the way."

With dozens confirmed dead, the Maui fires are the deadliest U.S. wildfires since the 2018 Camp Fire in California.  

Four shelters have opened in Maui for evacuees. More than 2,000 people are under evacuation as of Thursday afternoon, and 11,000 tourists were evacuated off the island, with more leaving on Friday. 

Wind-whipped flames making firefight difficult

Gorden has reported on numerous deadly wildfires in California and across the West. He said the Maui wildfires are unique for a number of reasons.


"This was whipped up by a hurricane, essentially, you had these very, very strong winds that were fanning the flames and also hampering firefighting efforts in that they couldn't get some firefighting aircraft in the air to fight it," Gorden said. "The fact that accessibility is very difficult in some areas of the island."

KHON Reporter Brigette Namata was reporting from a boat off the shores of Lahaina, which was completely charred by the firestorm. 

"I feel like I'm looking at a war zone," Namata said of the scorched landscape. 

The U.S. National Guard Hawaii Pacific and U.S. Coast Guard were continuing rescue operations from Maui.

Winds are forecast to slowly decrease across the islands on Thursday into Friday; however, the fires remain uncontrolled.