- A brush fire broke out in Maui on Saturday afternoon, prompting a local evacuation order
- Many Lahaina survivors packed up their cars and families for the second time this month — some experiencing bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder after the first fire
- The Lahaina fire death toll remains at 115, with hundreds still missing
Just weeks after deadly wildfires ravaged Maui, bushfires sparked evacuations again on Saturday, sparking fears among local residents already trying to rebuild their lives.
On Saturday afternoon, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green issued an area alert with an evacuation order for parts of Kaanapali — which is just one town from Lahaina.
“Vacate your family and pets now, do not hesitate.” “Expect conditions that may make driving difficult and be aware of public safety personnel operating in the area,” Green wrote in a follow-up warning.
Around 12:45 p.m., the fire broke out near the Kaanapali resort area, where many Lahaina families are currently staying.
At 2:45 p.m., a Maui County alert said the fire department had “stopped the progression of the fire.” There are no additional threats or evacuation orders. We will provide updates as information becomes available.’
The area is near a spot where wildfires destroyed a town and killed 115 people. Another 300 people are still missing as search parties continue to search the area.
Smoke billows from the hills above the Kaanapali Resort hotel area in Lahaina, Hawaii on Saturday. A bushfire on Saturday prompted Maui authorities to evacuate residents from a Lahaina neighborhood a few miles from the site recently ravaged by fires
The evacuation order was lifted at 5 p.m. when the fire was 90 percent contained. By 7 p.m., power was restored to the area.
There were no reports of injuries or damage caused by the fire.
Famed actor and native Hawaiian Jason Momoa posted video of the bushfire on his Instagram account on Saturday. Video showed a car driving down the street and the fire burning on the hillside.
Lei Casco, 34, said Saturday’s warnings triggered her flight mode as she loaded her car with children.
Casco and her extended family lost five apartments and a single family home in the Lahaina fire. She told the Honolulu Star advertiser that the warnings and evacuation orders over the weekend led to “flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder” to her Aug. 8 experience.
“My three boys cried,” she said.
Once she and her children were out of harm’s way, her stress turned to anger at emergency workers who were called out on Saturday and were nowhere to be found earlier in the month.
“They turned on the sirens and sent alerts through cellphones, which they didn’t do when Lahaina was burning,” Casco said. “But suddenly they’re doing it now.”
Notably, the warning sirens didn’t go off when the first Maui fire was heard across West Maui Saturday afternoon.
The cause of the bushfire is still under investigation.
The weekend response was led by Darryl Oliveira, the Maui Emergency Management Agency’s interim director – he was appointed to the post on Friday.
His predecessor, Herman Andaya, resigned on August 17 after asking questions about his background and response to the deadly fires. He defended his decision not to activate the county’s civil defense sirens during the 1,000-degree blaze that killed at least 115 people.
A video of the approximately seven-hectare brush fire on Maui circulated on social media on Saturday. Workers in Lahaina continue to search the area for the remains of the approximately 300 people still missing after the fire. An aerial view of Lahaina shows the extent of the destruction the wildfires have caused people in Lahaina to be devastated by a wildfire — search parties have covered an estimated 38 percent of the affected area
The search for bodies across Lahaina has extended to the ocean, where dive teams scoured the waters for remains last week.
Many fled to the water as fires swept through the historic city, destroying more than 2,000 buildings. It is feared that some of them drowned.
Names on the missing persons list were considered validated when officers had a person’s first and last name and a verified contact for the person who reported them missing, officials said.
Another 1,732 people who were reported missing were found safely Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said Tuesday his team was struggling to put together a solid list of missing people. In some cases people gave only partial names, in other cases the names might have been duplicated.
Many people displaced by the fires went to emergency shelters, having lost their homes in the blaze.
On Friday, Green announced a milestone as the shelters had been cleared and all evacuees had been housed in hotels, vacation rentals or other accommodation.
“We would like to thank our partners at the American Red Cross, FEMA, the hospitality industry and Airbnb for their commitment during this unprecedented tragedy,” Green said, according to Hawaii NewsNow.
The housing measures are temporary in nature and Green said the state is developing long-term solutions.
Damage in Maui resulted in at least 115 deaths, while hundreds evacuated their homes amid the deadly wildfires. The search for bodies across Lahaina has extended to the ocean, where dive teams scoured the waters for remains last week
The developments come after Maui County on Thursday sued Hawaiian Electric Co., claiming the utility negligently failed to shut off power despite exceptionally high winds and dry conditions.
Witness testimony and video indicated sparks from power lines started fires as utility poles snapped in winds driven by a passing hurricane.
According to Maui County, failure to maintain the system and power grid caused system outages and started three fires on the island.
“Maui County stands with the people and communities of Lāhainā and Kula to recover damage to public resources and to rebuild from these devastating utility-caused fires,” the lawsuit reads.
“This damage includes loss of public infrastructure, firefighting costs, loss of revenue, increased costs, environmental damage and loss of historical or cultural landmarks.”
The lawsuit seeks damages of an unspecified amount.
Hawaii Electric said in a statement it was “very disappointed that Maui County has chosen this contentious path while the investigation is ongoing.”