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Maui Wildfire

Lahaina, Maui is one of the most historics parts of Maui’s four islands. It has a unique history, culture, religion, and tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation which is expressed through food, music, and dance. Lahaina translates to “cruel sun” in Hawaiian language, which is meant to represent the desert-like climate year round. Originally founded as a little fishing village in 1802, Lahaina has now become an important and popular part of Maui history with nearly 40,000 visitors a year and 12,000 residents.

August 8th, 2023 was the start of one of the deadliest US wildfires in over a century since the Cloquet fire in 1918 that killed more than 1,000 people. This fire has caused destruction to almost all of the beautiful island, Lahaina. It has now been over a month since the Maui wildfires started and there has been over 1 billion dollars in harm to the island. Not only has the wildfire caused burning of nature, trees, homes, people, and more, but high winds across the island also brought drought and a hurricane which has only helped the wildfires to spread more. It has even reached some other parts of west Maui causing close to 2,167 acres and 86% of Maui’s island, Lahaina, to be damaged.

Lahaina was home to over 11,000 people and now, with 115 people confirmed dead, local authorities say they might never know the exact amount of people that died in these wildfires. This has raised a lot of questions in the community and online. These questions started to escalate more when the FBI-validated list was released earlier this month with the wrong amount of people unaccounted for and wrong information. This has caused people to ponder what else they don’t know about this investigation. People are wondering: what started the fires? How did it start? And who or what was responsible for them?

Less than 1% of fires are due to natural causes, while the other 99% are man made. Most fires in Hawaii are caused from lighting, volcano activity, and spark blades, but recently we have started to see that change. For example the fire on August 8th, 2023, which was one of the worst fires in Hawaii’s history, was caused by a power line that sparked at the Maui Bird Conservation Center around 10:47 pm, which at that point caused a small forest fire. The fire started to escalate more and later the next day, Maui County issued statements telling locals to find shelter but many just started to flee due to traffic,  caused by the amount of people trying to break away from the fires. Hour after hour, the wind continued to get stronger. At 3:41 PM, Joe Schilling (a local Lahaina resident) sent a text to one of his friends saying he’s in a building surrounded by fire and he doesn’t think he will make it out. Joe’s family and friends tell ABC News they think he had every intention of escaping the fire, but it was merely impossible. That was the last time they heard from Joe. Exactly an hour later, Jill Perkins, another one of the locals, captured footage of her and hundreds of people stuck on the road trying to get out of Lahaina. They eventually escaped, but others that weren’t so lucky and resorted to jumping into the ocean only an hour later because the flames were only getting closer. All of these events really show just how extreme this fire was. Some people ended up waiting up to 5 hours before getting rescued. It has been a month since these wildfires started and Lahiana is absolutely destroyed. Some damage is unrepairable and new updates are being made everyday on the status of the island.

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Works cited

ABC News, ABC News Network,,according%20to%20Maui%20County%20officials. Accessed 5 Sept. 2023. 

Hassan, Adeel. “Latest on the Maui Wildfires: Search for the Dead Nears Its End.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Aug. 2023, 

“How Did the Maui Fire Start? What We Know about the Cause of the Lahaina Blaze.” CBS News, CBS Interactive,,as%20well%20as%20damaging%20winds. Accessed 5 Sept. 2023. 

“Mourning the Catastrophic Loss of Hawaiian Culture and History in Lahaina.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2023, 

“New ‘FBI-Validated’ Lahaina Wildfire Missing List Has 385 Names.” CBS News, CBS Interactive,

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