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‘Indescribable’: Stories of loss emerge from devastating Hawaii fires | Climate Crisis Stories

Deadly Wildfires in Maui Claim Nearly 100 Lives, Prompting President Biden’s Planned Visit to Hawaii

The death toll on the island of Maui in Hawaii has reached a devastating 99 as firefighters continue to battle widespread wildfires. These wildfires have become the deadliest in over a century of United States history. The search for missing individuals is ongoing, with hundreds of people still unaccounted for.

In response to the , the Hawaii national guard has activated hundreds of troops to assist with response efforts. However, officials have warned that the death toll could rise significantly as search , aided by cadaver dogs, search the burned-out areas.

The White House announced a comprehensive “whole-of-government” response effort to support the immediate and long-term and recovery operations in Maui. As part of these efforts, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have committed to visiting Hawaii as soon as possible. President Biden expressed his determination to ensure that all necessary resources are available without disrupting the ongoing recovery efforts.

The multiple fires, fueled by strong winds and dry conditions, broke out a week ago and have since been mostly contained. The exact cause of the fires remains unknown.

The devastating impact of the wildfires is evident through the stories of several victims. Donna Hartley, a resident of Alabama, feared the worst as she watched footage of the fires engulfing the of Lahaina, where her sister Carole lived. Sadly, Carole perished in the fire when an explosion occurred while she was in her backyard. Hartley’s sister had lived in Lahaina for over three decades, and now Hartley awaits official DNA verification of her sister’s remains.

Another family, composed of Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, Salote Takafua, and her son Tony Takafua, tragically lost their lives while attempting to escape from the flames. Their burnt remains were discovered inside a car near their home. Family members describe their grief as “indescribable,” and the has deeply affected the .

Retired fire captain Geoff Bogar and his friend Franklin Trejos also faced a tragic fate. They initially stayed behind in Lahaina to assist others and protect Bogar’s house. When became clear that they had to evacuate, Bogar was unable to start his car and had to break a window to escape. Trejos, unfortunately, did not manage to escape and perished in the fire. When Bogar returned the following day, he discovered the remains of his friend and his cherished three-year-old golden retriever in the back seat of his car. Trejos had been a source of support for Bogar’s wife, helping her with her seizures.

The devastating impact of the wildfires in Maui has left a lasting impression on the community and the nation as a whole. As recovery efforts continue, the visit of President Biden to Hawaii offers support and solidarity during this difficult time.

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