At least 53 people have died, dozens have been injured and hundreds of structures have been destroyed as fires have torn through Maui this week, forcing thousands to flee their homes and reducing much of the historic town of Lahaina to ash.
“What we saw was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii state history,” Gov. Josh Green said in a public briefing Thursday.
Green issued a fourth emergency proclamation Thursday night to expedite aid to the western Maui communities devastated by the fires. The Lahaina wildfire raced with such speed that some of those fleeing jumped into the ocean to escape the flames and later were rescued by the Coast Guard.
Maui County officials said Thursday afternoon that at least 53 had died in the Lahaina fire, and the death toll was expected to increase in the coming days. One Lahaina resident, Tiffany Kidder Winn, saw a row of burned-out vehicles in the road, some of which contained charred bodies.