OAN’s Roy Francis
5:51 PM – Saturday, August 12, 2023
As the devastating wildfire approached residential areas on Maui, the Island’s emergency sirens failed to go off according to the Hawaii Emergency Services Administration (HI-EMA).
On Friday, HI-EMA confirmed that the sirens that it tests every month in case of a crisis, had never sounded as the flames approached the residential areas.
“Neither Maui nor HI-EMA activated warning sirens on Maui during the wildfire incident,” the agency said in a statement. “The sirens are used to alert the public to seek additional information; they do not necessarily indicate an evacuation.”
Many of the survivors said that they did not realize the danger they were in until they saw the fires themselves or heard explosions going off nearby.
“There was no warning. There was absolutely none. Nobody came around. We didn’t see a fire truck or anybody,” Lynn Robinson, a survivor who lost her home, said.
Governor Josh Green (D-HAWAII) said that it is not clear why the sirens had never sounded. He did confirm however, that the fires had destroyed most of the emergency equipment in the area.
As of Saturday, officials have confirmed 80 deaths as a result of the fires. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said that the death toll could still go up however.
Around 1,000 people are also still feared missing in the fires as the search continues.
Six fires are currently still burning in Maui and the Big Island. The Lahania fire is 85% contained according to officials on the island. However, around 2,200 buildings were damaged or destroyed as of Friday, with around 2,170 acres being burned.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pacific Disaster also estimate that around 4,500 people will be in need of shelter as a result of the crisis.
The Governor’s office said that the fires are likely to be the largest natural disaster in history of the islands.
Officials also estimated that rebuild efforts will cost around $5.5 billion.
A federal disaster declaration for the islands was issued by President Joe Biden on Thursday, and the residents are currently under strict curfew from 10:00 P.M. until 6:00 A.M.
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