Maui Wildfire Declared Deadliest in Over a Century

( – The toll of the devastating wildfires in Maui – both in lives and property – continue to rise as authorities continue rescue and relief operations on the island.

Fatalities caused by the fires have risen to 99, and the number is expected to climb “very significantly” and might even double within the next 10 days, according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green. The tragedy is already considered the most lethal in recent U.S. history, as the death toll has already surpassed that of the 2018 Camp Fire in California, which destroyed the town of Paradise and left 85 people dead in its wake. The cause for the Maui fires are still under investigation.

The picturesque seaside town of Laihana was the hardest hit by the Maui blaze, with large swaths of the area practically reduced to ash. Property damage across the island – with residential homes accounting for the majority of the damage – was estimated to be around $6 billion. Thousands of tourists have also been flown off the island, and the local government is asking visitors to put off their trips to the island for now.

Green told reporters that only 25% of the areas hit by the fires have been searched. Search and rescue teams are employing cadaver dogs to help with the search. “We can only wait and support those who are living,” the governor said, adding that the local government is focused on reuniting families whenever possible, providing shelter to the thousands of displaced individuals and families, and rebuild what has been lost. With cell phone service slowly being restored, the number of people reported missing has gone down to 1,300 from more than 2,000 a few days ago. There have also been reports of groups of people being found safe.

Another thing grief-stricken residents and locals are contending with are incidents of looting, as some people desperate for gas another supplies that are scarce on island have taken to looting and robbing the few businesses that have remained standing. “They’re poking holes into the gas tanks and draining them off,” one store owner said. There have also been reports of shady land speculators trying to feed of the needs of cash-strapped victims, offering quick money in exchange for buying the land for cheap.

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