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Maui fires – latest: Biden promises to assist survivors for ‘as long as it takes’ as death toll hits 115

President Joe Biden met with first responders and survivors in Maui as he surveys the damage wrought by the devastating wildfires which have so far claimed 115 victims.

After facing criticism for his response to the disaster, the president and First Lady Jill Biden travelled from Nevada to Hawaii.

There, Mr Biden promised the people of Lahaina the government would be with them “for as long as it takes.”

He added: "May God bless all those we’ve lost, may God find those who we haven’t determined yet, and may God bless you all."

Richard Bissen, the mayor of Maui said around 850 people are still missing.

The search to find and identify victims remains painstakingly slow — only 27 victims have so far been identified, with families of 16 of those yet to be notified.

While Maui turns to efforts to rebuild the community, locals are now bracing for potential storm effects as the remnants of post-tropical cyclone Fernanda head to the state.

Heavy rainfall is expected between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Key points

  • Biden heads to Maui to meet wildfires survivors

  • How did Maui wildfires start?

  • Maui officials say 100 per cent of residential properties searched

  • Biden tells Hawaii that the US ‘grieves with you’ as he surveys Maui wildfire devastation

  • Biden appoints new FEMA administrator to Maui

Who are the victims of the Maui wildfires?

15:45 , Ariana Baio

More victims of the Maui wildfires are expected to publicly identified in the coming days as officials use DNA to match survivors and family members to those who have died.

Who are the Maui wildfire victims?

Maui residents are still reeling from wildfire devastation. Now investors and relators are trying to cash in

15:00 , Ariana Baio

Just days after fast-moving wildfires broke out in Maui, Hawaii, residents were heartbroken to see the remainder of their homes, businesses and lives turned to ash.

Thousands are without shelter and their possessions, as nearly 80 per cent of structures in the town of Lahaina have been damaged or completely destroyed.

Even worse are the scores of people forced to mourn the untimely loss of loved ones who were unable to escape the blazes before they engulfed neighbourhoods.

But the same people who are trying to grapple with the immense loss and figure out how to move forward, are reportedly being forced to defend what they have left of their land and grief as investors and relators try to captalise on the disaster.

Ariana Baio reports:

Days after wildfires ravaged Maui, investors and realtors try to take advantage

Eight more victim identified from Maui wildfires

14:30 , Ariana Baio

Officials in the County of Maui have identified eight more victims who were killed in the wildfires that broke out on 8 August.

Those people include Clyde Wakida, 74, Todd Yamafuji, 68, Antonia Molina, 64, Freeman Tam Lung, 59, Theresa Cook, 72, Joseph Schilling, 67, Narcios Baylosis Jr, 67, and Vanessa Baylosis, 67.

All of the victims were from Lahaina.

GOP criticised for trying to make news out of Biden petting a dog in Hawaii

14:00 , Ariana Baio

After a Republican National Committee social media account tried to make a big deal out of President Joe Biden petting a dog during his Hawaii visit, the White House bit back.

On Monday, RNC Research tweeted: “Biden gets distracted by a dog: “That’s some hot ground, man!” The tweet was posted alongside a video of the president petting a golden retriever while talking to a FEMA worker in Hawaii amid the fatal wildfires.

In response, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates called out the Republican account in defence of Mr Biden, writing: “He’s petting one of the dogs that’s working hard searching for remains so survivors who’ve lost loved ones can have closure.”

“This criticism is classless and stupid,” Mr Bates added.

FBI ask those submitting missing persons reports to follow-up

13:30 , Ariana Baio

After the number of missing people in Maui rose to over 1,000, the FBI based on Honolulu are asking those who submitted complaints to follow up with authorities.

“If you have already submitted complaints to the Maui Police Department about a missing person, or to the FBI, or anyone else, please follow back up to ensure that they have the most up-to-date and accurate information, including dates of birth, what they look like, who they’re related to, further contact information,” Steven Merrill, the FBI Special Agent in charge, said.

Speaking with Maui survivors, Biden likens wildfires to almost losing his Corvette in small blaze at his home

13:00 , Ariana Baio

President Joe Biden drew criticism after tried to empathise with survivors of the Maui wildfires on Monday by sharing his own story of overcoming a small house fire where, luckily, nobody was hurt and nothing of considerable value was lost.

At the Lahaina Civic Center, Mr Biden addressed a crowd of residents who are still reeling from a raging wildfire that spread across their community on 8 August – causing at least 115 people to die and 80 per cent of the town’s structures to be damaged or destroyed.

“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, what it’s like to lose a home,” Mr Biden told the crowd.

Speaking with Maui survivors, Biden likens wildfires to a small kitchen blaze

Number of missing rises to 1,100

12:49 , Rachel Sharp

The number of people still missing in the Maui wildfires has now risen to 1,100 – more than two weeks after a deadly blaze tore through the historic town of Lahaina.

Maui County officials announced on Tuesday that between 1,000 and 1,100 remain unaccounted for while 1,400 have been located.

At the weekend, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said around 850 people were still missing.

Steven Merrill, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Honolulu field office, said on Tuesday: “Every day the numbers will change.

“That being said, the number that we’re most concerned about is, obviously, trying to clear people from the list. And that has reliably gone down every day.”

How to help victims of Hawaii wildfires

12:00 , Ariana Baio

Thousands of Hawaii citizens have been displaced following wildfires that devastated the historic town of Lahaina in Maui.

Hawaii’s governor Josh Green has estimated that billions of dollars will be needed to fully recover.

Here is a list of resources to help those impacted by the natural disaster.

How to help victims of Hawaii wildfires

Concerns over ‘climate gentrification’ rise after devastating Maui fires

11:00 , Ariana Baio

More than 3,000 buildings in Lahaina were damaged by fire, smoke or both. Insured property losses alone already total some $3.2 billion, according to Karen Clark & Company, a prominent disaster and risk modeling firm.

With a housing crisis that has priced out many Native Hawaiians as well as families that have been there for decades, concerns are rising that the state could become the latest example of “climate gentrification,” when it becomes harder for local people to afford housing in safer areas after a climate-amped disaster.

Jennifer Gray Thompson is CEO of After the Fire USA, a wildfire recovery and resiliency organization in the western U.S., and worked for Sonoma County during the destructive Tubbs Fire in October 2017. Thompson said Maui is one of the “scariest opportunities for gentrification” that she’s seen because of “the very high land values and the intense level of trauma and the people who are unscrupulous who will come in to try to take advantage of that.”

Thompson predicted potential developers and investors will research who has mortgages and said Maui residents should expect cold calls. “You won’t be able to go to a grocery store without a flyer attached to your car,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Nearly 2000 residents taking shelter at various hotels

10:00 , Ariana Baio

More than 1,9000 Maui residents are currently sheltering at several different hotels around Maui.

Those hotels include the Hyatt Regency Maui, Outrigger Kaʻanapali Beach Resort, Royal Lahaina, Honua Kai Outrigger, Maui Seaside Hotel and the Westin Maui.

Maui guest interrupts Steve Bannon broadcast to rail against politicisation of wildfire coverage

09:00 , Ariana Baio

Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast had an unexpected guest show up mid-broadcast when the former Trump aide’s interview subject was confronted by a Maui resident who accused him of politically exploiting the island’s wildfires.

Nick Sortor, an independent journalist who has been featured on Fox News, Newsmax and OAN, has been covering the Maui wildfires. While talking to Bannon, he was interrupted by a man who popped up behind him on camera.

Kelly Rissman reports:

Maui guest interrupts Steve Bannon show over politicisation of fires

Officials take preventative measures over toxins spreading to ocean

07:00 , Ariana Baio

Officials in Maui are preparing for mudslides or possibly flooding as remnants of tropical cyclone Fernanda is expected to hit parts of Hawaii.

The National Weather Service predicted parts of Maui could receive one to three inches and warned residents to be aware of flooding as burned land can not soak up rainwater.

But another issue is the potential of toxins, released from houses and businesses burning down, running off into the ocean.

Federal and local officials said they were trying to prevent the toxins from spilling into the ocean by using a glue-like material to bind ash and debris.

Fences will be built near the coast and hay bales will be placed near storm drains to reduce the spread of pollution as well.

Biden tells Hawaii that the US ‘grieves with you’ as he surveys Maui wildfire devastation

05:00 , Ariana Baio

Joe Biden told Hawaii that the rest of the United States “grieves with you” as he and the first lady surveyed the devastation of the Maui wildfires.

Mr Biden, who has been criticised for his administration’s response to the historic blaze, met with first responders in Lahaina before making remarks next to the famed and still-standing banyan tree.

“The country grieves with you, stands with you and will help do everything to help you rebuild,” the president said.

Graeme Massie reports:

Biden tells Hawaii that the US ‘grieves with you’ as he surveys Maui devastation

Maui’s wildfire victims in full

03:00 , Ariana Baio

Who are the Maui wildfire victims?

ICYMI: Mayor of Maui says 850 people are still missing

01:00 , Ariana Baio

Nearly two weeks after fast-moving wildfires engulfed several neighbourhoods in Maui, there are still 850 people missing.

Richard Bissen, the mayor of Maui, said in a Facebook video post that officials in the American Red Cross, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) based in Honolulu and Maui Police Department have combined and refined a list of names of the missing individuals.

The number is a decline from the 2,000+ names it contained when the search for missing residents first began last week.

Mr Bissen said he was both “saddened and relieved” about the numbers, saying that over 1,287 people have been located safe.

Of the original missing list, 11t have been declared deceased as of Monday morning, with most of those identifications pending.

Online posts spread misinformation about FEMA aid following Maui wildfires

Wednesday 23 August 2023 00:00 , Ariana Baio

In the aftermath of the deadly Maui wildfires, some social media users are discouraging residents from accepting disaster aid by falsely claiming the Federal Emergency Management Agency could seize their property if they do.

“If you own land in Lahaina, do not sign anything for FEMA,” a woman says on a video circulating widely on social media. “That is why they’re holding back all of the donations and saying, Hey, you want food come sign this?”

But disaster recovery experts and lawyers stress accepting aid doesn’t give FEMA any such powers to take private lands and that the posts are misrepresenting federal law. Here are the facts.

CLAIM: FEMA can seize the private property of any Maui resident that signs up for disaster assistance.

THE FACTS: The federal agency says the claims are “absolutely false” and encourages Hawaiians to visit a website it launched recently to address rumors and frequently asked questions in the aftermath of the fires, which have claimed more than 100 lives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Watch: Biden visits Maui to survey destruction from devastating wildfires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 23:00 , Ariana Baio

GOP under fire for trying to make news out of Biden petting a dog in Hawaii

Tuesday 22 August 2023 22:30 , Ariana Baio

After a Republican National Committee social media account tried to make a big deal out of President Joe Biden petting a dog during his Hawaii visit, the White House bit back.

On Monday, RNC Research tweeted: “Biden gets distracted by a dog: “That’s some hot ground, man!” The tweet was posted alongside a video of the president petting a golden retriever while talking to a FEMA worker in Hawaii amid the fatal wildfires.

Kelly Rissman reports:

GOP under fire for trying to make news out of Biden petting a dog in Hawaii

Over 1800 Lahaina customers still without power

Tuesday 22 August 2023 22:00 , Ariana Baio

The County of Maui said that over 1,800 customers in Lahaina were still without power as of Monday evening.

Hawaiian Electric crew were working to restore “critical circuits” in West Maui that served essential locations like grocery stores, pharmacies and a wastewater pumping facility.

“Once that circuit is restored, coordination between county response teams, individual businesses and private properties will determine next steps toward respective reopening at these commercial facilities,” the County said.

Maui residents are still reeling from wildfire devastation. Now investors and relators are trying to cash in

Tuesday 22 August 2023 21:30 , Ariana Baio

Days after wildfires ravaged Maui, investors and relators tried to take advantage of residents striking fear that towns will lose its history and roots.

Ariana Baio reports:

Days after wildfires ravaged Maui, investors and relators try to take advantage

Biden compares Maui wildfires to a kitchen fire he experienced

Tuesday 22 August 2023 21:00 , Ariana Baio

President Joe Biden tried to empathise with survivors of the Maui wildfires on Monday by sharing his own story of overcoming a small house fire where, luckily, nobody was hurt and nothing of considerable value was burned.

At the Lahaina Civic Center, Mr Biden addressed a crowd of residents who are still reeling from a raging wildfire that spread across their community on 8 August.

“I don’t want to compare difficulties but we have a little sense, Jill and I, what it’s like to lose a home,” Mr Biden told the crowd.

The President went on to share a story from 2004 when lightning struck a wire that ran underneath his home and caused a “small fire that was contained to the kitchen” according to an Associated Press report.

“To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ‘67 Corvette and my cat,” Mr Biden said.

The President then clarified he was “kidding” and praised firefighters for their brave work to save his family during the 2004 kitchen fire.

“We were insured, we did not have any problem, but being out of our home for a better part of a year was difficult. I can only imagine what it’s like to lose your home completely. Burned to the ground. And more importantly, all the things that matter to you,” Mr Biden continued.

Watch: Biden pets emergency response dog in Maui

Tuesday 22 August 2023 20:30 , Ariana Baio

Maui mother holds 15th memorial birthday party for son who died in wildfires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 20:00 , Ariana Baio

Among the 114 victims of the devastating wildfires in Maui is Kenyero Fuentes, whose family was getting ready to celebrate his birthday before the fire engulfed his home.

Fuentes was relaxing at his family’s home with their dog in Lahaina on 8 August. He was getting ready for classes to start at Lahainaluna High School the next day, his mother, Luz Vargas, told NPR.

Maui mother holds 15th memorial birthday party for son who died in wildfires

FEMA numbers to date

Tuesday 22 August 2023 19:30 , Ariana Baio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved about $8 million in aid to nearly 2,000 households in Hawaii.

They have also made $3.6 million in rental assistance available to households.

The agency has also made more than 50,000 meals available and some 75,000 liters of water.

More than 1,000 FEMA officials are on the ground in Hawaii to assist in recovery efforts.

Voices: How Biden’s response to Hawaii wildfire disaster went so wrong

Tuesday 22 August 2023 19:00 , Ariana Baio

“An off-hand remark has landed the president in trouble – but occupants of the White House need to remember that they are always in the spotlight”

John Bowden writes:

How Biden’s response to Hawaii wildfire disaster went so wrong

PGA will play opening event in Maui

Tuesday 22 August 2023 18:30 , Ariana Baio

Jay Monahan, the Professional Golf Association (PGA) commissioner said they plan to host their season-opening event in Maui, despite the wildfires.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Monahan said he hopes the PGA golf tour can be a “source of inspiration for the great people of Maui and Lahaina.”

The event, called The Sentry, is slated to happen in January, leaving some time for officials and residents to begin clean-up and rebuilding efforts.

When Mr Monahan was asked, on Tuesday, about hosting the event in Maui, he said “absolutely” would still host the event there.

“But I think at this point there’s so many unknowns, and we want to be respectful of the challenges. We want to help be a part of the revitalization. There are a lot of considerations. We’re committed, you know, if we’re allowed to, if we’re invited, if we’re embraced, given all that needs to be accomplished, we will be there 100 per cent,” Mr Monahan added.

In Photos: Biden’s trip to Hawaii

Tuesday 22 August 2023 18:00 , Ariana Baio

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden meet first responders and a rescue dog in the fire-ravaged town of Lahaina (REUTERS)
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden meet first responders and a rescue dog in the fire-ravaged town of Lahaina (REUTERS)
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green hugs President Joe Biden before he speaks after touring areas devastated by the Maui wildfires (AP)
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green hugs President Joe Biden before he speaks after touring areas devastated by the Maui wildfires (AP)
President Joe Biden hugs a child as he meets with community members impacted by the Maui wildfires at Lahaina Civic Center, (AP)
President Joe Biden hugs a child as he meets with community members impacted by the Maui wildfires at Lahaina Civic Center, (AP)
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One after visiting the site of the devastating Maui wildfires (AP)
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One after visiting the site of the devastating Maui wildfires (AP)

Hawaii governor thanks Joe Biden for visit to Hawaii

Tuesday 22 August 2023 17:30 , Ariana Baio

Hawaii Governor Josh Green posted on Twitter, thanking President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for visiting Maui to survey the damage caused by fast-moving wildfires.

“Jaime and I want to deeply thank President Biden and Dr Jill Biden for their unwavering commitment of support to the people of Lāhainā as they heal and recover from the largest tragedy our state has ever experienced,” Mr Green wrote in a post.

He continued: “Hawai`i and the world will rally around the community of Lāhainā, and we will rise from this together - hand in hand.”

Officials take preventative measures over toxins spreading to ocean

Tuesday 22 August 2023 17:00 , Ariana Baio

Officials in Maui are preparing for mudslides or possibly flooding as remnants of tropical cyclone Fernanda is expected to hit parts of Hawaii.

The National Weather Service predicted parts of Maui could receive one to three inches and warned residents to be aware of flooding as burned land can not soak up rainwater.

But another issue is the potential of toxins, released from houses and businesses burning down, running off into the ocean.

Federal and local officials said they were trying to prevent the toxins from spilling into the ocean by using a glue-like material to bind ash and debris.

Fences will be built near the coast and hay bales will be placed near storm drains to reduce the spread of pollution as well.

How did the Hawaii wildfires start?

Tuesday 22 August 2023 16:30 , Ariana Baio

At least 115 people are dead and hundreds are still missing after deadly wildfires raged through the Hawaiian island of Maui.

The fires, which are now the deadliest in the US in the last century, erupted on three of Hawaii’s islands forcing visitors to flee and residents to seek emergency shelter.

Photos and videos from Maui show the destruction the fires have caused, with some neighbourhoods including the historic town of Lahaina, nearly burned to ash.

Search and recovery efforts then began as firefighters worked to contain and put out the fires.

How did the Hawaii wildfires start?

Maui Fire Department says ‘no active threat’ at this time despite burning fires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 16:00 , Ariana Baio

Although the wildfires in Olinda, Kula, Lahaina and Pulehu/Kihei are not extinguished, the Maui Fire Department reassured the public that there were “no active fire threats” at this time.

The fires in Olinda and Kula were approximately 85 per cent contained with over 1,200 acres of land burned thus far.

The Lahaina fire was 90 per cent contained with more than 2,100 acres of land burned.

The Pulehu / Kihei fire is 100 per cent contained as of 12 August – though this does not mean they are extinguished just that firefighters have completely surrounded the perimeter of the fire.

“The fires are not advancing, but full containment can be more difficult to establish and determine in urban settings.”

The Maui Fire Department is continuing to use infrared technology, water drops and firefighters to locate hot spots.

ICYMI: Biden appoints new FEMA administrator to Maui

Tuesday 22 August 2023 15:30 , Ariana Baio

While visiting Lahaina on Monday, President Joe Biden announced he was appointing Bob Fenton, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional administrator responsible for Hawaii, to lead the federal response to Maui.

Mr Biden said that while it may take a while to rebuild he intends to “rebuild the way the people of Maui want to rebuild.”

He noted the importance of respecting the traditions, cultures and history of Native Hawaiians.

More than 80 per cent of structures in Lahaina were damaged or destroyed in the wildfire.

First Lady Jill Biden sends message to survivors of Maui

Tuesday 22 August 2023 15:10 , Ariana Baio

Maui officials say 100 per cent of residential properties searched

Tuesday 22 August 2023 14:30 , Ariana Baio

The death toll in Maui is at 115 as of Monday night, officials in Maui confirmed.

That comes after 100 per cent of residential properties have been searched in the wildfire disaster area.

Officials in search and recovery teams, along with cadaver dogs, will now search multi-story residential and commercial properties.

A brief history of natural disasters blighting the tropical paradise

Tuesday 22 August 2023 14:00 , Ariana Baio

Climate crisis and agricultural neglect are blamed for the Pacific state’s increasing vulnerability to fires, which were until recently considered a rare occurrence on the islands

Joe Sommerlad reports:

A brief history of natural disasters in Hawaii, from tsunamis to wildfires

Two more victims identified

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:30 , Ariana Baio

The County of Maui identified two more victims of the Maui wildfires in a post on 21 August.

Douglas Gloege, 59, of Lahaina and Juan Deleon, 45, of Lahaina are among the victims.

Watch: Biden promises Maui residents he will stand beside them

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:00 , Ariana Baio

Hawaii wildfires death toll rises to 114

Tuesday 22 August 2023 12:00 , Ariana Baio

The death toll from the Maui wildfires has reached 114 as survivors and city officials grapple with the devastating aftermath of the days-long blaze that turned the historical town into ashes.

Families in the once vibrant cultural hub of Lahaina are mourning the loss of loved ones and searching for the many still missing amid fears that real estate developers are already seizing on the tragedy for land grabs.

At least 114 people lost their lives in the deadliest wildfire in America in the last century, as first responders continue to search for 1,000 missing in the fire-ravaged landscape.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green said he plans to give survivors time to mourn and make them a central part of the process of rebuilding Lahaina. An early estimate suggests that nearly 3,000 homes and buildings burned to the ground or were damaged, and losses are around $6bn.

Maui water is unsafe even with filters

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:00 , Ariana Baio

People in torched areas of Maui should not try to filter their own drinking water because there is no “way to make it safe,” Maui County posted on its Instagram account this week.

Brita filters, devices connected to refrigerators or sinks and even robust, whole-home systems are unlikely to address the “extreme contamination” that can happen after a fire.

Hundreds of people in the Lahaina and Upper Kula areas have been told to minimize any contact with county water including showers. In Lahaina alone, aerial imagery and damage assessment data generated by Vexcel Data show 460 buildings apparently undamaged by the fires. These are places where people are returning.

For now, the county has told people to use bottled water for all their needs or to fill jugs at tankers called water buffalos, which have been brought in near the burns.

The state health department’s environmental health division told Maui County, which operates water delivery systems for most residents, to test for 23 chemicals. Those are just the ones for which the federal government has set limits for drinking water.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

What we know about the victims of the Maui wildfire

Tuesday 22 August 2023 10:00 , Ariana Baio

Who are the Maui wildfire victims?

Approximately 85 per cent of burned are search

Tuesday 22 August 2023 09:00 , Ariana Baio

The County of Maui has found 114 remains of people in the burned area of Lahaina in Maui.

In an official statement, the county said that 85 per cent of the search area has been probed by rescue and recovery teams as well as cadaver dogs.

The search will continue on Monday morning local time.

Beanie Babies creates new Aloha bear in support of Hawaii wildfire victims

Tuesday 22 August 2023 08:00 , Ariana Baio

The creator of Beanie Babies has created a new bear amid the ongoing devastation caused by thewildfires in Hawaii.

Ty Warner, the creator and founder of Beanie Babies, announced on 17 August in a press release the introduction of what Warner’s Ty Inc is calling the Aloha bear. All of the profits from the limited time sale will be donated to the American Red Cross and their efforts to help victims of the wildfires.

The stuffed animal itself is a burnt orange bear with a rainbow ribbon tied around its neck into a bow with an inscription on the right side of its chest that reads “Maui Strong.”

Brittany Miller reports:

Beanie Babies creates new Aloha bear in support of Hawaii wildfire victims

Watch: Hawaii gov says state suffered $5.6bn losses in ‘harrowing’ wildfires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 07:00 , Ariana Baio

Highly flammable grasses in Hawaii fueled spread of deadly Maui wildfires, experts say

Tuesday 22 August 2023 06:00 , Ariana Baio

Highly flammable grass is believed to have fuelled the rapid spread of the deadly wildfires in Maui that have killed at least 111 people and destroyed the island’s historic town of Lahaina.

Experts say the invasive, non-native grassland that covers a quarter of the Hawaii islands has been a major fire risk they have been warning about for years.

The types of grass, including guinea grass, molasses grass and buffel grass, originated in Africa but were brought to Hawaii for livestock because it proved drought-resistant.

“These grasses are highly aggressive, grow very fast and are highly flammable,” Melissa Chimera, who coordinates the Pacific Fire Exchange, a Hawaii-based project sharing fire science among Pacific island governments, told The New York Times.

“That’s a recipe for fires that are a lot larger and a lot more destructive,” Ms Chimera added. Her grandmother lived on the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s plantation in Maui after emigrating from the Philippines.

Maui residents search for pets left behind as wildfires swept in

Tuesday 22 August 2023 05:00 , Ariana Baio

Facebook groups have been inundated with photos of cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and exotic birds, and many remain missing nearly one week on from the deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a century.

“I am absolutely heartbroken,” one pet owner wrote on the Lost & Found Animals of Maui Fires group along with photos of her cats Lily Jupiter, Puma and Tiger.

Bevan Hurley reports:

Maui residents desperately search for pets left behind as wildfires swept in

Maui homeowner reveals property upgrades that left her house the only one spared by wildfires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 04:00 , Ariana Baio

The once-colourful homes along the coast of historic Maui town of Lahaina are now mostly obliterated, leaving a series of ruins covered in a layer of grey soot and ash from the devastating wildfires that ravaged the area.

Except for one.

Aerial photos of destroyed properties show a red-roofed home with a pristine white facade and red roof still standing, seemingly untouched by the blazes.

A photo of the scene immediately went viral, with some wondering if it could be Photoshopped or if it was part of a larger conspiracy, like many images that have circulated online in the wake of the disaster.

Ariana Baio reports:

Maui homeowner reveals property upgrades that left her house spared in wildfires

Wedding photographer criticises ‘tone-deaf’ brides asking for refunds after Maui wildfires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 03:00 , Ariana Baio

A wedding videographer has candidly criticised brides for worrying about their big days and asking for refunds amid relief efforts for the Maui wildfires.

Shayna Kiesler couldn’t believe how many requests she’d received from individuals looking to get their non-refundable deposits back from her company, Portola Wedding Films in Maui, because they would no longer be able to host their nuptials on the island.

Kiesler’s sister, Reyna Edmonds, posted a TikTok on 14 August urging brides to stop making these monetary demands, as she noted conditions on the island are “horrific”. The Seattle-based wedding photographer attempted to appeal to the frustrated individuals, while also opening their eyes to the realities of Maui residents right now.

“While I realise to brides this is the most important day of their life, it is extremely tone-deaf for what is going on on the island of Maui,” she said. “Please be patient, please give them their time that they need to figure out what is going on, and only reach out if you’re actually willing to help.”

Biden tells Hawaii that the US ‘grieves with you’ as he surveys Maui wildfire devastation

Tuesday 22 August 2023 02:28 , Graeme Massie

President praised the residents of Hawaii for showing ‘absolute incredible courage’ in the face of tragedy.

Biden tells Hawaii that the US ‘grieves with you’ as he surveys Maui devastation

Watch: Maui Mayor says 850 people are still missing after wildfires

Tuesday 22 August 2023 02:00 , Ariana Baio

FEMA warns Maui residents to beware of scams

Tuesday 22 August 2023 01:00 , Ariana Baio

Those left without homes and their possessions are at risk of being targetted by scammers and fraudulent schemes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.

FEMA warned survivors of the Maui wildfires to beware of scammers and to report any suspicious activity to StopFEMAfraud@fema.dhs.gov or call 1-866-223-0814.

“Unfortunately, after a disaster like the Maui Fires, scam artists, identity thieves, and other criminals may attempt to take advantage of survivors,” the government organisation wrote on Twitter.

Hawaii wildfire survivors slam warning system failures

Tuesday 22 August 2023 00:00 , Ariana Baio

The wildfires in Hawaii are some of the deadliest to occur in the United States and one of the worst natural disasters in Hawaii’s history.

More than 2,800 acres of land have been burned and firefighters are still working to extinguish flames and contain smaller fires throughout Maui.

Part of the reason the fires were so deadly was the lack of preparation and a warning that many residents were given before the flames engulfed entire towns like Lahaina.

Shortly after midnight on 8 August, smaller wildfires began breaking out but quickly turned into massive blazes – in part due to 60 miles-in-hour winds caused by a hurricane hundreds of miles off the coast of Hawaii.

From the time the wildfires were recognised on Tuesday evening until the morning when they spiraled out of control, residents say they were given little information.

JD Hessemer, a business owner in Lahaina, told CBS News last week that he received “nothing” on his phone regarding an emergency alert system. He made the decision to evacuate early on Tuesday himself.

“I received nothing at no point in time,” Mr Hessemer said. “I got nothing on my phone,” he told the network.

Initially, officials told news outlets that they sounded alarms indicating residents should look to their phones, radio or television for further instruction. But later a spokesperson for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency confirmed to NPR that officials chose not activate the system.

President Biden and First Lady arrive in Maui

Monday 21 August 2023 23:51 , Graeme Massie

Joe Biden surveys damage in Maui

Monday 21 August 2023 23:39 , Graeme Massie

US President Joe Biden (L), US First Lady Jill Biden (R), Hawaii Governor Josh Green (2nd R) and Jaime Green, First Lady of Hawaii, take part in an operational briefing on response and recovery efforts following wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 21, 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden (L), US First Lady Jill Biden (R), Hawaii Governor Josh Green (2nd R) and Jaime Green, First Lady of Hawaii, take part in an operational briefing on response and recovery efforts following wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 21, 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

Audiences praise Good Morning America reporter Gio Benitez for ‘Emmy-worthy’ coverage of the Maui wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 23:00 , Ariana Baio

Good Morning America host Gio Benitez recently opened up about his harrowing experience covering the Maui wildfires on Instagram. In his comment section, there was an outpour of support from audiences and fans alike, with some hailing the host’s coverage as “Emmy-worthy”.

Beneath a photo of a Maui sunset taken on 8 August, Benitez wrote that he had taken the photo at 6.46 pm that day, and that he and his husband ExtraTV correspondent, Tommy DiDario, had been on vacation and “like so many on the island,” were unaware that Maui was on fire.

Olivia Hebert reports:

Audiences praise reporter Gio Benitez for ‘Emmy-worthy’ coverage of Maui wildfires

Maui resident interrupts Steve Bannon guest and slates politicised coverage of wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 22:46 , Graeme Massie

Biden greeted by Hawaii governor as he lands in state

Monday 21 August 2023 22:35 , Graeme Massie

US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden greet Hawaii Governor Josh Green (L) upon arrival at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Hawaii, on August 21, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden greet Hawaii Governor Josh Green (L) upon arrival at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Hawaii, on August 21, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

Biden goes west for his second vacation of the month

Monday 21 August 2023 22:30 , Ariana Baio

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived in Nevada late Friday for more rest and relaxation.

The first couple is renting a private home on Lake Tahoe, the massive alpine lake that abuts California and Nevada and is a tourist attraction, particularly in the winter for its ski resorts.

The home in the Glenbrook community belongs to Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. Steyer is an investor, climate activist and Democratic donor. He ran for president in 2020.

The Bidens are renting the home for fair market value, the White House said, and will spend about a week in the area.

The Bidens will halt their vacation for a day on Monday to visit Maui.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Watch: Joe Biden meets Maui wildfire survivors and surveys damage

Monday 21 August 2023 22:00 , Ariana Baio

Live: Joe Biden meets Maui wildfire survivors and surveys damage

Watch live: Biden departs to Maui to meet wildfire survivors

Monday 21 August 2023 21:30 , Ariana Baio

Watch live: Biden visits Maui to meet wildfire survivors

Hawaiian officials delayed request to divert water to firefighters battling Maui wildfire, report claims

Monday 21 August 2023 21:00 , Ariana Baio

New documents allege that state authorities in Hawaii delayed a water management company’s request to divert water to Maui to help fight wildfires that ripped through the island earlier this month.

The allegations were reportedly detailed in a letter obtained by CNN.

Glenn Tremble of the West Maui Land Company — which manages the state’s water supply companies — expressed his frustration in a letter to the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management, reportedly claiming the agency failed to approve his company’s request to move water to reservoirs to help firefighting capabilities during the wildfire.

He was told that the company had to consider the impact such a diversion would take on downstream users, according to the report.

State officials announced they will investigate the emergency response to the wildfire, which killed more than 100 people earlier this month.

It is unclear if the diversion would have made a notable difference in the firefighting capabilities of responders battling the blaze.

Over 1800 people are in hotels

Monday 21 August 2023 20:30 , Ariana Baio

In an update, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said more than 1800 people who lost their homes in the Maui wildfire are currently residing in hotel rooms.

For those remaining people in shelters, the director of human services for the state of Hawaii said they were working around the clock to find a semi-permanent place to live

Wedding photographer criticises ‘tone-deaf’ brides asking for refunds after Maui wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 20:00 , Ariana Baio

A wedding videographer has candidly criticised brides for worrying about their big days and asking for refunds amid relief efforts for the Maui wildfires.

Shayna Kiesler couldn’t believe how many requests she’d received from individuals looking to get their non-refundable deposits back from her company, Portola Wedding Films in Maui, because they would no longer be able to host their nuptials on the island. The community is being forced to not only deal with the loss of loved ones, landmarks, homes, businesses, and crops, but as she noted, brides-to-be are also worried about their personal fortunes too.

Kayleigh Werner reports:

Wedding photographer criticises brides asking for refunds after Maui wildfires

Maui Mayor thanks Joe Biden for coming to Hawaii

Monday 21 August 2023 19:30 , Ariana Baio

In a pre-recorded message, mayor of Maui, Richard Bissen, thanked President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for coming to visit Maui after the wildfires.

“I thank our countries’ leader for traveling here to see first hand the catastrophic destruction our people are facing,” Mr Bissen said in the video message.

Maui prepares for flooding after tropical cyclone

Monday 21 August 2023 19:00 , Ariana Baio

The National Weather Service forecasted that much of Maui will see rain from tropical cyclone Fernanda on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The County of Maui is warning residents to be mindful of flooding and mudslides around terrain that has been recently burned.

“Landscapes that have been severely impacted by wildfires are also at heightened risk of flooding during periods of heavy rain as vegetation that would typically absorb rainfall has been burned away, increasing the possibility of flash flooding or mudslides.”

Officials are asking people to remain vigilant and avoid brown ocean water.

Verified GoFundMe fundraisers for victims of Maui wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 18:30 , Ariana Baio

GoFundMe has created a page of verified fundraisers so people can donate money if they feel like directly assisting families who have lost loved ones or their homes in the fires.

The page includes a section for memorials and other types of fundraisers for businesses, individuals, nonprofits and more.

Visit the page here.

Wildfires in Washington: Two people killed in Washington state as wildfires explode

Monday 21 August 2023 18:00 , Ariana Baio

Two people have been killed by wildfires in Washington and a state of emergency was declared after major blazes erupted this weekend.

Two large fires broke out in the US Northwest region, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported on Monday, close to the city of Spokane.

One person died due to the Oregon Road Fire in Spokane County, according to the local sheriff’s office. A separate fatality was linked to the Grays Fire, which ignited close to the community of Cheney on Friday afternoon. Hundreds of people were evacuated from the blaze which has engulfed more than 10,000 acres and also threatened the towns of Medical Lake and Four Lakes.

The Grays Fire was only 10 per cent contained, Spokane County Emergency Management reported on Sunday, but did not appear to be growing towards Medical Lake or Four Lakes.

Louise Boyle reports:

Two people killed in Washington state as wildfires explode

US Department of Transportation providing $3m in infrastructure relief to Maui

Monday 21 August 2023 17:30 , Ariana Baio

The Us Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration is immediately sending $3 million in emergency funding requested by the Hawaii Department of Transportation to help with costs after the devastating wildfires.

The department will make the funds “quick release” to Maui so they can be used in recovery or to replace destroyed infrastructure, including traffic signals, erosion of damaged areas, guardrails, signs, and more.

“The nation watched with broken hearts as wildfires took lives and livelihoods in Maui – and the nation will stand with Maui as it rebuilds,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “This emergency funding will help residents get transportation networks back up and running with traffic signal replacements, erosion control, guardrails, and more – and we will continue work to protect communities against these increasingly frequent climate disasters.”

Maui mother holds 15th memorial birthday party for son who died in wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 17:00 , Ariana Baio

Among the 114 victims of the devastating wildfires in Maui is Kenyero Fuentes, whose family was getting ready to celebrate his birthday before the fire engulfed his home.

Fuentes was relaxing at his family’s home with their dog in Lahaina on 8 August. He was getting ready for classes to start at Lahainaluna High School the next day, his mother, Luz Vargas, told NPR.

Ms Vargas, her husband Andres and their eldest son Josue were at work at the time. They operate a local cleaning business in Honokowai.

Before the fires, Ms Vargas was planning Fuentes’ 15th birthday party for the coming Sunday. She said planned to include a vanilla cake and pork tacos.

But when they heard and saw wildfires quickly heading toward their home and son they rushed to save Fuentes.

“Everyone was running away from the flames, but we were all running toward them,” Ms Vargas, who only speaks Spanish, told NPR.

Maui mother holds 15th memorial birthday party for son who died in wildfires

President Biden to visit Maui today

Monday 21 August 2023 16:30 , Ariana Baio

Approximately 85 per cent of burned are search

Monday 21 August 2023 16:00 , Ariana Baio

The County of Maui has found 114 remains of people in the burned area of Lahaina in Maui.

In an official statement, the county said that 85 per cent of the search area has been probed by rescue and recovery teams as well as cadaver dogs.

The search will continue on Monday morning local time.

Five more victims identified

Monday 21 August 2023 15:30 , Ariana Baio

The County of Maui released the names of five more victims identified from the wildfires on 20 August.

Conchita Sagudang, 75, of Lahaina.

Sagudang died alongside her son, Danilo Sagudang, her sister wrote in a Facebook post.

“There are no words to express the pain of this type of tragedy,” Nemi Bandayrel wrote.

Danilo Sagudang, 55, of Lahaina.

Sagudang’s sibling wrote in a Facebook post that he and his mother were trying to escape the fires near the Paunau subdivision in Lahaina.

“They are forever in our hearts and we will miss them dearly. Mom and Danilo were our family, our support, our mentors, our friends,” Edna Sagudang wrote.

Rodolfo Rocutan, 76, of Lahaina,

In a GoFundMe, one of Rocutan’s family members said he was living in Lahaina with his sister who survived. According to the description, Rocutan’s wife died in 2021.

“He is wise, friendly, caring and loving Father and Grandfather,” the creator of the fundraiser wrote.

Jonathan “Jon” Somaoang, 76, of Lahaina.

Somaoang was a veteran and retired wood crafter, according to a missing poster.

Angelita Vasquez, 88, of Lahaina.

Maui mayor says over 800 people still missing

Monday 21 August 2023 15:00 , Ariana Baio

Richard Bissen, the Mayor of Maui, said there are still 850 people missing in Maui in a Facebook post.

Mr Bissen said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) based in Honolulu has combined and refined a list of names that it has received from the American Red Cross, the Emergency Management Agency, the FBI Honolulu and Maui Police Department.

That list now has 850 people still missing.

“There is positive news in this number because when this process began the missing person lists contained over 2000 names,” Mr Bissen said.

Over 1,287 individuals have been located safe.

Officials explain how DNA is used to match victims to family

Monday 21 August 2023 14:30 , Ariana Baio

Hawaii wildfires death toll rises to 114 as governor pledges to rebuild fire-ravaged Maui

Monday 21 August 2023 14:00 , Andrea Blanco

The death toll from the Maui wildfires has reached 114 as survivors and city officials grapple with the devastating aftermath of the days-long blaze that turned the historical town into ashes.

Families in the once vibrant cultural hub of Lahaina are mourning the loss of loved ones and searching for the many still missing amid fears that real estate developers are already seizing on the tragedy for land grabs.

At least 114 people lost their lives in the deadliest wildfire in America in the last century, as first responders continue to search for 1,000 missing in the fire-ravaged landscape.

Read more:

Hawaii wildfires death toll rises to 114 as governor pledges to rebuild community

Maui mayor says 850 people still missing

Monday 21 August 2023 13:40 , Rachel Sharp

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen has revealed that around 850 people are still missing following the devastating wildfires that destroyed the historic town of Lahaina and left at least 114 dead.

On Sunday night, the mayor said it was feared that up to 2,000 people were still unaccounted for.

But now, 1,285 people have now been found safe leaving around 850 missing.

He said he was “both saddened and relieved about these numbers”.

WATCH: Maui survivor reveals harrowing details of dead babies in the ocean

Monday 21 August 2023 13:20 , Rachel Sharp

Maui homeowner reveals property upgrades that left her house the only one spared by wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 13:00 , Ariana Baio

The once-colourful homes along the coast of historic Maui town of Lahaina are now mostly obliterated, leaving a series of ruins covered in a layer of grey soot and ash from the devastating wildfires that ravaged the area.

Except for one.

Ariana Baio reports:

Maui homeowner reveals property upgrades that left her house spared in wildfires

Maui business owner says he hopes tourists return to Hawaii soon

Monday 21 August 2023 12:40 , Rachel Sharp

A Maui business owner has said that he hopes tourists will return to the Hawaiian island soon.

While residents have lost loved ones, homes and businesses to the wildfires, those who are left behind are now facing concerns about their future livelihoods, which largely rely on the tourist industry.

Coconut’s Fish Cafe owner Michael Phillips told Business Insider that he is “praying visitors will start to come back soon” .

“We literally have no tourism now as the fire has scared everyone off,” he said.

“This time of year we normally have about 8,000 visitors arrive every single day, and I think it’s down to 1,500 now.”

PICTURED: Volunteers work to help Maui survivors

Monday 21 August 2023 12:22 , Rachel Sharp

Hawaii Fires Water Lessons (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Hawaii Fires Water Lessons (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
A group of volunteers who sailed from Maalaea Bay, Maui, form an assembly line on Kaanapali Beach (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
A group of volunteers who sailed from Maalaea Bay, Maui, form an assembly line on Kaanapali Beach (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Hawaii Fires Water Lessons (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Hawaii Fires Water Lessons (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Biden to appoint FEMA ‘chief federal response coordinator’ to help Maui

Monday 21 August 2023 12:00 , Rachel Sharp

The White House announced on Monday morning that President Joe Biden plans to appoint FEMA Regional Administrator for Region 9 Bob Fenton as the “Chief Federal Response Coordinator” for Maui to oversee the long-term coordinated federal recovery as Hawaii rebuilds after the wildfires. “As the recovery moves into the next phase, President Biden, alongside FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, will announce that he is appointing FEMA Region 9 Administrator Bob Fenton as the Federal government’s “Chief Federal Response Coordinator” for Maui,” read the announcement.

“Mr. Fenton is one of the nation’s most experienced disaster response-and-recovery officials who has been on the ground in Hawaii from the day the wildfires started. In this role, Fenton will oversee the Federal government’s long-term recovery work on the ground for Maui.

“President Biden is directing Chief Federal Response Coordinator Fenton to ensure that every Federal asset is provided to help the community rebuild as fast as possible in Maui.”

More than 1,000 federal personnel are currently on the ground in Maui helping with rescue and recovery efforts following the devastating wildfires.

Devastated mother holds 15th birthday party for son killed shielding pet dog from Maui wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 11:37 , Rachel Sharp

A devastated mother held a 15th birthday party for her son after he was killed in the Maui wildfires.

Kenyero Fuentes should have celebrated his birthday on Sunday with his family.

Instead, he is one of at least 114 victims who died when the horrific wildfires tore through the historic town of Lahaina in Maui.

His body was found inside the bedroom of his home, shielding his pet dog from the flames and smoke.

Kenyero Fuente (Family)
Kenyero Fuente (Family)

Fox News criticised for using disgraced ex-FEMA head to attack Biden’s response to Hawaii wildfires

Monday 21 August 2023 11:20 , Rachel Sharp

The former FEMA administrator who was critcised for slow rescue efforts amid the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has been accused of hypocrisy after he called President Joe Biden’s response to the Maui wildfires an “abject failure”.

Despite facing his own barrage of criticism when he headed FEMA, Michael D Brown lambasted the president’s response to the fatal fires on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. The fires have claimed the lives of at least 111 people, while thousands more have been displaced.

“If he wants to go to Honolulu and meet with the governor, that’s fine. But I can tell you from personal experience that if he goes to Maui, it will interrupt operations because the United States Secret Service will put an air cap over Maui,” Mr Brown said. “They won’t let any helicopters fly. It will be a complete disaster,” he added.

Read more:

Fox News blasted for using ex-FEMA head to attack Biden’s response to Maui wildfires

WATCH: Video shows falling tree striking power line ahead of Maui wildfire

Monday 21 August 2023 10:40 , Rachel Sharp

Maui wildfires map

Monday 21 August 2023 10:20 , Rachel Sharp

Check out this map to see which areas have been affected by the wildfires:

Maui wildfires map: Where are the Hawaii fires?

Maui residents now brace for storm

Monday 21 August 2023 10:00 , Rachel Sharp

While Maui turns to efforts to rebuild the community, locals are now bracing for potential storm effects as the remnants of post-tropical cyclone Fernanda head to the state.

Remnant moisture from Fernanda is forecasted to approach the state starting late on Sunday, with the highest rainfall totals for Maui County expected to occur between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Showers are forecasted to be brief and primarily focused over windward and mauka areas.

In preparation, emergency response crews have worked to deploy inlet protection devices at all street-level storm drain catch basins in the Lahaina disaster area, Maui County reported.

Absorbent booms have also been installed by the US Coast Guard at eight storm drain outfalls entering the ocean within the impacted areas of Lahaina town.

The county warned that areas ravaged by the wildfires are at greater risk of flash flooding and mudslides.

Biden heads to Maui to meet wildfires survivors

Monday 21 August 2023 09:40 , Rachel Sharp

President Joe Biden is heading to Hawaii on Monday to survey the damage wrought by the devastating wildfires which have so far claimed 114 victims in Maui.

After facing criticism for his response to the disaster, the president and First Lady Jill Biden will travel from Reno, Nevada, to Maui on Monday morning.

There, they will meet with federal, state, and local leaders and “see firsthand the impacts of the devastating wildfires as well as discuss the recovery effort”.

They will also speak to survivors and first responders who battled the blaze.

Mr Biden has faced criticism over his public handling of the disaster.

While he deployed FEMA resources as soon as requested by state officials, he came under fire for giving a blase response to questions from reporters.

Maui water is unsafe even with filters, officials say

Monday 21 August 2023 09:00 , Stuti Mishra

The language is stark: People in torched areas of Maui should not try to filter their own drinking water because there is no “way to make it safe,” Maui County posted on its Instagram account this week.

The Maui fires damaged hundreds of drinking water pipes, resulting in a loss of pressure that can allow toxic chemicals along with metals and bacteria into water lines.

Brita filters, devices connected to refrigerators or sinks and even robust, whole-home systems are unlikely to address the “extreme contamination” that can happen after a fire.

Read more:

Maui water is unsafe even with filters, one of the lessons learned from fires in California