Hawaii fires.  US President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency

Hawaii is experiencing widespread wildfires. The death toll from the fire reached 36. Those who survived are in desperate need of help. To facilitate her access, US President Joe Biden decreed a state of natural disaster.

US President Joe Biden issued a state of emergency declaration after wildfires destroyed parts of the Hawaiian Islands and Maui in the Hawaiian archipelago. All this to provide faster and more federal aid to the injured residents of “Heaven on Earth.”

The assistance is to include, inter alia, subsidies for temporary housing and home repairs, loans to cover property losses and other schemes.

– Our prayers are with the people of Hawaii, but not just our prayers – all the resources we have will be available to them. “They’ve seen their homes destroyed, their businesses destroyed, some of them lost loved ones, and it’s not over yet,” Biden said at a ceremony in Utah on Thursday.

He assured that anyone in need would receive help “immediately”.

Hawaii firesPAP / EPA / MASTER SGT ANDREW JACKSON / US ARMY NATIONAL GUARD HANDOUT

The fire is still burning

On Thursday, authorities said at least 36 people died as a result of the storm on Maui. The tragic balance has not changed until the evening hours, but the situation is very dynamic. Mayor Richard Besen Jr. said most of the fires, which were ignited in part by high winds, are not yet under control.

The fire destroyed several hundred buildings, including historic 18th-century homes in the town of Lahaina. Aerial footage showed flattened homes and blackened skeletons devoid of leaves, including on a tourist-favorite Front Street, and burning boats in the harbour, the Associated Press reported. Plumes of smoke rose from the ruins of Lahaina. Residents were devastated, describing their property as “completely burned”.

“It looks like a war zone, like a city that was bombed,” said the helicopter pilot from whom the video was taken.

Hawaii fires seen from a helicopterReuters

“It was shocking”

Many people hastily left their homes. As Maui resident Jeff Melichar said, he and his neighbors had to evacuate very quickly, because gusts of wind quickly spread flames across his area. As he added in an interview with CNN, the residents were surprised by the fire and did not have time to get their belongings.

He himself was out for a walk when he saw the rapidly approaching flames.

– We had to run across the area because the smoke and heat overwhelmed us. We got home and had another 10-15 minutes before we found ourselves trapped [przez płomienie – przyp. red.]. And then we just had to hop in the car. The man said it was shocking.

Hawaii firesPAP / EPA / CARTER BARTO / HANDOUT

Melichar rents a house on the island of Maui. As he reports, his tenants are now safe, but they’ve been forced to let go of two Labradors. Due to the dynamically developing situation and the closed roads, they could not return to it. The animals may have died.

Some people jumped into the Pacific Ocean to escape the smoke and fire. The Coast Guard pulled 14 people from the water, including two children. The American Red Cross opened an evacuation center at Maui High School.

Many areas of the island were burned to the ground. – The entire city of Lahaina was burned to ashes. “It’s like the end of the world,” said Lahaina resident Mason Garvey.

Strong winds tore the garage door off the hinges

A Lahaina resident, Mauro Farinelli, told reporters that a strong wind started blowing and then a fire broke out on the hillside. “The flames penetrated everything incredibly quickly,” he said, adding that it was “like a blowtorch.” “The wind was so strong it tore the garage door off its hinges and trapped the car,” said Farinelli, who was taken with his wife to the evacuation center. He has no idea what happened to their home. Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Locke said hospitals were overwhelmed with patients with burns and smoke. The shelters to which both residents and tourists have fled are also overcrowded.

More than 2,000 people spent the night in evacuation centers, and thousands more took refuge at Kahului Airport. A conference center in Honolulu has also been prepared to receive the evacuees.

A group of Poles trapped on the island

According to RMF FM radio, a group of Poles got stuck on the island of Maui. – We left all our things in Lahaina. The whole town burned. We’re in a swimsuit. All our belongings were burned. Only the springs from the mattresses remained from the center, – said one of the Polish women in an interview with RMF FM. She added that the internet works very poorly and Poles feel cut off from the world. “We can’t get to the airport because here between the town of Lahaina, where everything has burned to the ground, there’s no way to get through,” she said.

Pawe Żuchowski, the station’s American correspondent, wrote on social media: “The Poles escaped from the resort in Hawaii, I know a group of 14 who found shelter outside Lahaina.” “Everything they had was burned,” he added.

Unusual scale

Residents fleeing the fire posted videos and photos on social media showing eerie clouds of smoke rising over idyllic beaches and palm trees. The US National Weather Service (NWS) explained that the fires are the result of a combination of dry vegetation, strong winds from Hurricane Dora, and low humidity. According to the University of Hawaii, wildfires are not uncommon in parts of the Hawaiian archipelago, but the scale of the fires there is remarkable.

Hundreds of acres of forest and trees have already burned, and roads and schools have been closed in parts of Hawaii County, which includes Hawaii and Maui. State officials are urging tourists to stay away from the area.

“At least 4,000 tourists have tried to leave West Maui,” said Ed Sneven of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Fire on the island of Maui

Fire on the island of MauiReuters

Reuters, PAP, RMF FM, CNN

Main image source: PAP / EPA / MASTER SGT ANDREW JACKSON / US ARMY NATIONAL GUARD HANDOUT

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