Hawaiian paradise wiped out: At least 36 dead and thousands homeless after wildfires tear through island of Maui

10 August 2023, 10:29

Maui, in Hawaii, is ablaze after a hurricane fanned the flames
Maui, in Hawaii, is ablaze after a hurricane fanned the flames. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

At least 36 people have died after fires broke out in Hawaii and devastated a popular tourist destination.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Thousands of people fled their homes on the island of Maui as a state of emergency was declared.

Hundreds of buildings, some dating to the 1700s, have been destroyed as a hurricane helped fan the flames.

Many people are missing as rescuers race to find survivors and helicopters dump water over the fires in a bid to bring them under control.

Evacuation shelters have been overrun with people as dozens were taken to hospital, and at least three people suffered critical burns.

Maui mayor Richard Bissen Jr said: "The gravity of losing any life is tragic. As we grieve with their families, we offer prayers for comfort in this inconsolable time.

Read more: FBI agents shoot and kill man suspected of threatening Joe Biden ahead of president's Utah visit

Maui has been engulfed by wildfires
Maui has been engulfed by wildfires. Picture: Alamy
The wildfires broke out in Maui
The wildfires broke out in Maui. Picture: Google Maps

"Our main focus now is to save lives."

Kamuela Kawaakoa, who evacuated to a shelter on Tuesday with his partner and son, six, said: "We barely made it out in time. It was so hard to sit there and just watch my town burn to ashes and not be able to do anything.

"I was helpless."

President Joe Biden tweeted: "Our prayers are with those whose homes, businesses, and communities are destroyed.

Waiola Church and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission ignite in Lahaina
Waiola Church and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission ignite in Lahaina. Picture: Alamy

"I have ordered all available federal assets on the Islands to help with response.

"And I urge all residents to continue to follow evacuation orders, listen to the instructions of first responders and officials, and stay alert."

Buildings in tourist hotspot Lahaina, on the coast, were razed to the ground as smoking rubble piled up at the water. It is thought almost 300 buildings have been damaged or destroyed.

A tour helicopter pilot, Richard Olsten, said: "It's horrifying. I've flown here 52 years and I've never seen anything come close to this."

Hawaii has set ablaze
Hawaii has set ablaze. Picture: Alamy

He told Sky News: "Basically, the whole Front Street of Lahaina, all the shops, the historical buildings, everything, has been burnt right to the ground.

"There are hundreds of people homeless, there's still no power in the whole town, people can't get access to food, so it was just an absolutely heart-wrenching site.

"And the really sad part about it too is the loss of the historical buildings on Front Street that can't be rebuilt - so that whole area is levelled to the ground."

Some in Lahaina even fled to the ocean, with the Coast Guard pulling 12 people from the sea.

The area is a popular tourist destination and an important historical site, having once served as the Hawaii's capital.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Rust incident

Production manager testifies about Alec Baldwin shooting in 2021 Rust rehearsal

Playwright Jeremy O’Harris has defended the 'black only' nights

‘Black people have been told they don’t belong at the theatre’: Playwright defends ‘black-only’ nights at West End show

Christian Horner has been cleared of inappropriate behaviour

Geri Halliwell 'relieved and elated' after F1 boss husband Christian Horner is cleared after Red Bull investigation

Dame Esther said she was "disappointed" at no clear call for a vote on assisted dying

‘The law is a mess’: Dame Esther Rantzen issues fresh call for free vote on assisted dying

Canada Gaza Strip Aid

Canada says it is working to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip as soon as possible

Mark Feehily announced he's temporarily stepping away from the band amid health struggles.

Westlife star Mark Feehily reveals he’s standing down from the band just days before US tour leaving fans devastated

The Duke of Sussex took legal action against the Home Office over a decision in 2020 to change the level of his personal security

Prince Harry faces £1m bill after losing High Court challenge over taxpayer funded police protection

Rishi Sunak has warned 'mob rule' is threatening to 'replace democratic rule'.

End descent into ‘mob rule’ and shut down intimidating protests, Rishi Sunak tells police amid threats to MPs


President Joe Biden declared ‘fit for duty’ after annual medical test

Thomas Kingston died aged 45.

Lady Gabriella Windsor's husband Thomas Kingston 'died at his parents' £3m country mansion'


Supreme Court to rule if Trump can be prosecuted in election interference case

Richard Lewis has died aged 76.

Curb Your Enthusiasm star Richard Lewis dies aged 76 after suffering heart attack

Obit Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis, humorously morose star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, dies aged 76

Robert Brown's lost his bid for parole.

BA pilot Robert Brown who bludgeoned wife to death with claw hammer loses bid for early prison release

Film Oscars-Guide

Everything you need to know about this year’s Oscars ceremony

It is understood that RedBird IMI is offering to help pay the £1.16 billion in debts that the current owners, the Barclay family, owe to Lloyds Bank.

Foreign governments must be banned from owning British newspapers, says former Tory cabinet minister