Share this article!

Government officials are estimating that wildfires in Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui killed at least 93 people and destroyed more than 2,700 properties.

According to combined media reports, an updated damage assessment issued on Saturday by the Pacific Disaster Center and FEMA are predicting Maui County is facing $5.52 billion in “capital exposure,” while CoreLogic has estimated there are 3,088 residences with $1.3 billion in total construction cost value within the preliminary wildfire perimeters. The city of Lahaina

“The source and ignition of the fire are still undetermined, but once the fire moved into the more developed regions of Lahaina, it appears the fire was able to intensify and spread very quickly,” said Dr. Thomas Jeffery, CoreLogic’s principal wildfire scientist. “The winds likely pushed embers and flames into the built environment, and then the buildings in Lahaina became the primary source of fuel for the expansion of the fire. Many of the residential properties in Lahaina appear to have wood siding, and a number of them have elevated porches with a lattice underneath. Both are characteristics that make the residence very vulnerable to either ember or direct flame ignition. The reported wind speeds and comprehensive urban damage indicate that what likely happened in Lahaina was a true urban conflagration that could have been the result of an initial grass fire.”

Hawaiian Electric stated the hardest-hit sections of West Maui are still without power, and the utility warned outages could last several weeks.

Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820 to 1845, and several members of the Hawaiian royalty are buried there. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen told reporters that the damage to Lahaina was without precedent.

“I’m telling you, none of it’s there. It’s all burned to the ground,” Bissen said.

Photo from Lahaina courtesy U.S. Civil Air Patrol.