Death Toll From Hawaii Fires Reaches At Least 36


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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The death toll from wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, reached at least 36 as of Thursday morning.

A total of 36 fatalities were discovered in the Lahaina fire, which continues to burn on the island of Maui, according to an official press release from the Maui County government. Initial reports suggested that only six people were killed by the raging infernos across the state, urged on by winds from Hurricane Dora over the Pacific.

The death toll increased late Wednesday, local time, as rescue operations continued. That number could well increase into Thursday as many residents and others remain unaccounted for, according to CNN. The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy are being used in search and rescue operations along Maui’s coastline, as many residents were forced to jump into the ocean to escape the wildfire, an official update noted Wednesday.

“It looked like an area that had been bombed in the war,” pilot Richie Olsten told CNN. (RELATED: At Least 2 Killed, Millions Without Power As Thunderstorms Batter US)

The fires forced thousands of people from their homes, and residents could not call 911 as power lines and communication infrastructure collapsed. It could take days, even weeks to restore cell service throughout the island, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke stated. The state is asking President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency, CNN noted.