The devastating wildfires in Hawaii have claimed the lives of at least 36 people, and this number is expected to rise as the search for missing persons continues. The fires have hit the historic town of Lahaina particularly hard, with locals describing the town as nearly ‘wiped off the map.’ Lahaina was the ancient capitol of Hawaii and is the largest resort town on the island of Maui. So far, some 271 buildings have been destroyed, and the blaze has swept across 800 hectares of land, driven by strong winds.

The fire began early on Tuesday on the island of Maui, threatening over 35,000 people, including many tourists at the popular vacation destination. Thousands have been ordered to evacuate and are seeking temporary shelter on the island. President Joe Biden has ordered ‘all available federal assets’ to fight the wildfires, including the deployment of Black Hawk helicopters to assist in extinguishing the flames.

The situation in Lahaina has been described by witnesses and officials as catastrophic, likening the town to a ‘warzone’ and stating that it’s been ‘almost totally burned to the ground.’ Authorities are anxiously awaiting a presidential declaration of emergency, hoping it will come in the next few hours or days. The state is bracing for billions of dollars in damages, highlighting the severity and lasting impact of this disaster.

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