(TheRedAlertNews.com) – HAPPENING NOW: The Hawaiian town of Lahaina witnessed a devastating scene on Tuesday, with residents having to jump into harbor waters to evade rapidly advancing flames from a vast brush fire that has already devastated much of the historical district and continues to spread.
This fire, which has ravaged homes and businesses, is considered by many to be Hawaii’s worst natural catastrophe since Hurricane Iniki.
Although the local fire department battled the fire throughout the day, strong winds hampered their efforts, leading to the destruction of many structures. Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke stated that the Hawaii National Guard had been mobilized to support the fire emergency. Many evacuees remain uncertain about the condition of their homes.
The Coast Guard confirmed they dispatched a helicopter and boat to Front Street Beach and the Lahaina Small Boat Harbor, successfully rescuing twelve people from the surrounding waters around 10:50 p.m. Social media videos depict a harrowing wall of flames consuming Front Street in Lahaina. One such video shows cars set ablaze without immediate details on potential casualties.
Tiare Lawrence, a resident of Lahaina, equated the disaster to an apocalyptic event, revealing the distress of being unable to contact family members. Alan Dickar, a business owner on Front Street, recounted witnessing numerous businesses in the historic district get consumed by the flames, emphasizing the significance of the street for Maui.
A spokesperson for Maui County stated there were several structure fires and widespread evacuations in Lahaina. The full extent of the damage will likely remain unknown until Wednesday, once the winds are predicted to subside. How many residents jumped into the water to avoid the fire and smoke remains unclear, but the Coast Guard continues their rescue operations.
The county’s news release on Tuesday evening clarified, “The Coast Guard has been responding to impacted areas where residents are entering the ocean due to smoke and fire conditions,” adding that those rescued were transported to safer locations.
Amid challenging conditions such as strong winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation, firefighters are contending with the Lahaina fire and at least six other significant wildfires across the state. These winds, intensified by Hurricane Dora, have reached speeds up to 80 mph in places. In addition to battling fires, responders are addressing fallen trees, damaged structures, and power outages, especially on Maui. The Lahaina fire may have caused the most destruction, but significant damage has also been reported in Kihei and Kula, where evacuations continue.
Additionally, thick smoke across Maui poses a risk. A firefighter in West Maui was hospitalized due to smoke inhalation earlier in the day.