Hawaii fires death toll nears 100 as crews effort search and rescue and firefighters combat flare-ups in Maui

Thousands of buildings were destroyed by the fire in Lahaina, with nearly 90% of those being residential structures. Several homes were also burned in the Upcountry/Kula wildfire, with officials saying 19 were destroyed in Kula and three were destroyed in Olinda.

LAHAINA, Hawaii – The death toll from the devastating wildfires in Hawaii has risen to 99 per Gov. Josh Green, with search and rescue teams still looking through the charred remains of scorched buildings for any signs of the hundreds of people still missing from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than 100 years.

Firefighters are still working to contain flare-ups and extinguish the wildfires that broke out nearly a week ago, with the Upcounty/Kula fire now at 60% containment, the Lahaina fire at 85% containment, and the Pulehu/Kihei fire at 100% contained.

However, officials stress that even if and when a fire is 100% contained, it doesn’t mean it’s extinguished. It only means that firefighters have the blaze entirely surrounded by a perimeter, inside of which can continue to burn. The fire will only be declared extinguished when firefighters believe nothing is left burning.


The latest information on the Hawaii wildfires

Officials have been providing details of the current situation as containment, search and rescue efforts and support for the thousands of residents who have been affected all continue. 

Residents of West Maui have slowly been allowed to return to their homes. On Monday, travel into West Maui was set to be expedited with access placards but Maui police later suspended the placard program because of "overwhelming demand" from non-essential individuals and non-Maui residents. 


Power is also being restored, and officials said the Napili Plaza is open 24 hours a day. And with power being restored in areas of West Maui, Ohana Fuels/Minit Stop on Keawe Street in Lahaina and Kahana Gateway Shell are open for gasoline.

An unsafe water advisory has also been issued for many residents until further notice, and residents have been told not to drink or boil water. Bottled water should be used for all drinking, brushing teeth, ice making and food preparation until further notice.


Officials said residents cannot treat the water in any way to make it safe, and drinking water sites have been set up in many areas of Lahaina and Kula.

Six shelters have been set up across the area, with one shelter at Maui High School, Kahului, being closed on Sunday. People staying there were transported to the South Maui Community Park Gymnasium, Kihei.


Searching for answers

People across Maui and Hawaii are searching for answers as to what sparked the fires that claimed so many lives last week.

There’s no official reason as to what sparked the blazes, but a class-action lawsuit was filed in Hawaiian Circuit Court alleging that Hawaiian Electric was negligent, essentially ignored weather warnings and didn’t de-energize power lines when they should have when they were aware that windy conditions and fire weather alerts were in place.

Hawaiian Electric issued a statement and said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

"Our immediate focus is on supporting emergency response efforts on Maui and restoring power for our customers and communities as quickly as possible," Hawaiian Electric spokesperson Jim Kelly said in a statement. "At this early stage, the cause of the fire has not been determined, and we will work with the state and county as they conduct their review."

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green says he wants an investigation into how the disaster happened, into the aftermath and into why people may not have been warned or didn’t receive the life-saving information in time.

Green said that initially, firefighters thought that the fire was out, but then the winds picked up to around 80 mph and caused what he called a "fire hurricane."

"That meant that the fire traveled one mile every minute, resulting in this tragedy," he said. "With those kinds of winds and 1,000-degree temperatures, ultimately all of the pictures that you will see will be easy to understand."

Survivors encouraged to submit DNA samples to ID victims

Access to Lahaina is still limited because of the dangerous conditions that remain nearly a week after the deadly fire.

The search for victims continues, and in one case, a family of four was identified as victims.

An overnight curfew also remains in effect across West Maui from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., with limited access during the day to residents only and those with hotel reservations.

"Never, I think, in my life would I have imagined that we would have something like this," Ed Gazmen said.

With the death toll expected to continue to rise as the search continues for hundreds of people who remain missing, survivors of the fire are being urged to submit DNA samples to help identify those who were killed.

Thousands of buildings destroyed in Maui

The fire destroyed thousands of buildings in Lahaina, with nearly 90% of those being residential structures.

Several homes were also burned in the Upcountry/Kula wildfire, with officials saying 19 were destroyed in Kula and three were destroyed in Olinda.

Several other homes sustained damage; however, officials said a total number of homes destroyed are not yet available because the fire is still active.

How you can help victims of the Hawaii fires

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green announced a new relief program to re-house the thousands who now have no home.

"This means we will be able to get people into hotel rooms, Airbnbs and so on so that they are safe," he said. "Look out for your neighbors. Love them. That's what we will be defined by in the future. How we take care of our ohana (family)." 

If you would like to help the people of Lahaina and Maui, check out this page.