OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:42 PM – Wednesday, August 9, 2023
Wildfires whipped up by Hurricane Dora’s winds are wreaking havoc in Hawaii, requiring evacuations, rescues, and school closures, as well as an emergency proclamation from the acting governor.
Some locals also claim to have witnessed numerous power lines fall during the storm, which only strengthened the fires.
Acting Governor Sylvia Luke issued the proclamation for counties in Maui and the Big Island on Tuesday.
The hurricane’s eye was “churning far south of the islands,” but winds were still hitting much of the state.
“We are closely following the wildfires caused by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora,” Luke said. “The safety of our residents is paramount, and this emergency proclamation will activate the Hawaii National Guard to support emergency responders in the impacted communities.”
In addition to the Hawaii National Guard being activated to help contain the fires on Maui and the Big Island, the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division will reportedly be sending helicopters to assist with fire suppression if the winds die down enough, according to Jeff Hickman, a spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Defense.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the Hawaiian Islands’ leeward areas.
According to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA), there have been no verified fatalities as of Wednesday morning. The state’s EMA also said that communication on the island is intermittent, and the 9-1-1 line is unavailable in parts of West Maui.
Six fires have burned over 1,800 acres throughout Maui and the Big Island as of Tuesday night.
“Multiple structures have burned and multiple evacuations are in place, as firefighter crews continue battling brush and structure fires in Upcountry and Lahaina areas,” officials said in a statement, later adding, “In West Maui, fire crews from Napili, Lahaina, Kihei, and Wailuku responded to the fast-moving fire, which was fueled by strong winds as Hurricane Dora passed well south of Hawaii.”
According to the statement, the governor’s proclamation also permitted necessary steps by the director of the state’s Emergency Management Agency and the administrator of Emergency Management.
The U.S. Coast Guard also responded to calls and joined in on the efforts.
“A @USCG 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew from Station Maui has successfully rescued 12 individuals from the waters off Lahaina,” the guard’s Hawaii Pacific patrol said on social media.
According to the state’s EMA, the victims are suspected to have leaped into the ocean to escape the fire.
There has been no formal shutdown of Kahului Airport, Maui’s principal airport, although there have been delays due to the smoke. The EMA urges travelers to verify the status of their flights with their carriers.
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