The wildfires in Maui have caused an unprecedented amount of damage to the tropical island, destroying roughly 80 percent of the historic town of Lahaina.
While Maui officials on Thursday morning said most of the fire was contained, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) flatly told CNN the town itself was “gone.”
“There is no doubt everyone would describe this as though a bomb hit Lahaina,” he said. “It looks like total devastation. Buildings that we’ve all enjoyed and celebrated together for decades, for generations, are completely destroyed. I mean smoldering still. Only a few stone buildings are still partially up. Looks to me that about 80 percent of Lahaina is gone.”
According to Hawaii News Now, the death toll in the fire now stands at 53 with thousands more missing as the death toll is expected to rise.
The death toll from the catastrophic wildfire in Lahaina grew by 17 people Thursday — to 53 — as the governor got his first on-the-ground look at the devastation.
As response efforts continued, authorities warned the death toll could grow even higher given what they know about just how quickly wind-whipped flames spread through Lahaina, giving some only minutes to flee. Eyewitnesses have also reported horrific scenes on the ground in Lahaina.
FEMA officials said more cadaver dogs and other resources would be brought in as Maui first responders continued the grim task of searching burned out homes and cars.
The exact cause of the devastating fires remains unknown.
Mick Fleetwood, founder of Fleetwood Mac, is currently the most high-profile name affected by the fire, being that he called Lahaina home for decades. His local restaurant, Fleetwood’s on Front Street, burned to the ground.
“This is a devastating moment for Maui, and many are suffering unimaginable loss,” Fleetwood said. “Fleetwood’s on Front Street has been lost and while we are heartbroken, our main priority is the safety of our dear staff and team members.”
“On behalf of myself and my family, I share my heartfelt thoughts and prayers for the people of Maui,” he said. “We are committed to supporting the community and those affected by this disaster in the days and months and years to come.”