The Maui County officials have released a list of 388 people who are still unaccounted for after the devastating wildfires that swept through the island earlier this month. The list was compiled by the FBI, which is using cell phone data to locate the missing persons. The death toll from the disaster has risen to 115, making it the deadliest US wildfire in more than a century.
Electric Company Admits Evidence May Be Compromised
The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), which is accused of causing the fire by failing to maintain its power lines, has admitted that some of the evidence on how the blaze started may have been compromised. The company said that it had removed some of the damaged equipment from the fire zone for safety reasons, but did not inform the authorities or preserve the evidence properly.
The company is facing multiple lawsuits from the county, the state, and the victims of the fire, who claim that HECO was negligent and reckless in its operations and maintenance. The plaintiffs allege that HECO ignored warnings from its own employees and experts about the fire risk posed by its aging and faulty power lines, especially in windy and dry conditions.
The company has denied any wrongdoing and said that it is cooperating with the investigation. It also said that it is committed to helping the community recover from the tragedy.
Lahaina Reduced to Ashes
The fire, which started on August 8, was fueled by strong winds and drought conditions. It quickly spread across the western part of Maui, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate. The historic town of Lahaina, which was once a vibrant tourist destination and cultural hub, was reduced to ashes by the inferno.
Many residents and visitors have lost everything they owned in the fire, including their homes, cars, documents, and memories. Some have been staying in shelters or with relatives and friends, while others have left the island altogether. The county has set up a recovery center to provide assistance and resources to those affected by the fire.
The fire also caused extensive damage to the environment and wildlife. The flames scorched thousands of acres of land, including forests, farms, and parks. The smoke and ash polluted the air and water quality, posing health risks to humans and animals. The fire also threatened several endangered species, such as the Hawaiian monk seal and the nene goose.
Recovery Efforts Underway
The authorities have been working hard to contain the fire and restore normalcy to the island. The fire was declared 95% contained as of Friday, but some hot spots remain. The firefighters have been battling the blaze for more than two weeks, with support from federal and state agencies, as well as volunteers.
The county has also been clearing debris and repairing infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, power lines, and water systems. The governor has declared a state of emergency and requested federal assistance for the recovery efforts. The president has approved a major disaster declaration for Maui County, which will provide federal funding and resources for relief and rebuilding.
The community has also shown resilience and solidarity in the face of adversity. Many people have donated money, goods, and services to help those in need. Several organizations and groups have organized fundraisers, drives, and events to support the victims and raise awareness about the fire. Some celebrities have also joined the cause, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who visited Maui last week and met with some of the survivors.
The county officials have expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support and generosity from the public. They have also urged people to remain vigilant and cautious as the fire situation is still evolving. They have asked people to follow evacuation orders, avoid entering restricted areas, and report any suspicious activities or missing persons.