Hawaii wildfires leave ‘utter devastation’ in Lahaina: Recap

None of the wildfires are 100% contained, officials said Thursday night. NBC News is on location covering the devastation.

By NBC News

More of the Maui wildfire that devastated the town of Lahaina was contained Thursday, but as the damage became clearer Hawaii’s governor said the disaster will likely be historic.

“What we saw was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii state history,” Gov. Josh Green said. He compared it to the tsunami that struck the Big Island in 1960, killing 61 people.

The number of people confirmed dead in the wildfires rose Friday to 55, but officials don’t know how many people died in the fire in and around Lahaina or how many people may still be missing. Recovery of remains is expected to take days and weeks, the governor said.

The fire that struck Lahaina was 80% contained Thursday, officials said. None of three fires burning were 100% contained, Maui County Fire Chief Brad Ventura said.

Green said the damage from the fires was “without a doubt” in the billions of dollars.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration and ordered additional federal aid. Green said that will allow rental assistance and FEMA grants to people, and aid to small businesses.

Also Thursday, some airlines sent help. United canceled flights so empty planes could be flown to Maui to help tourists and other visitors leave. Alaska Airlines said it was sending rescue flights. County officials have asked visitors to leave in order to focus on the crisis.

California and Nevada said they were sending urban search and rescue teams, including dogs.

The death toll as it is currently known makes it one of the deadliest wildfires in American history.

The Camp Fire in California that devastated the town of Paradise in 2018 killed 85 people. That fire has been called the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history in the previous 100 years. It was the deadliest and most destructive in California state history, according to state officials.

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