Apocalypse: Hawaii wildfires killed six, destroyed historic Maui town

Maui fire: Six people were killed and at least twenty-four others were injured when a wildfire ripped through the center of Maui on Wednesday with alarming speed and ferocity. Panicked locals were forced to jump into the ocean to escape the flames.

Residents of Hawaii described running from deadly, ferocious wildfires, which prompted the acting governor to issue an emergency proclamation.

In Maui’s historic Lahaina Town, where blazes fueled by wind from a passing hurricane were concentrated, entire blocks of residences and businesses went up in flames. On the Big Island, three wildfires were also burning, but two of them were at least 60% contained.

In Posted photos, a line of flames was seen blazing across an intersection and leaping above structures in the town center, which is from the 1700s and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Blocks of buildings were reduced to ash and smoke in the air, as seen in aerial footage taken after sunrise. More than 2,100 people spent the night in evacuation centers.

The popular tourist destination of West Maui and an inland mountainous area were the two places where crews on Maui were battling multiple fires. In West Maui, the 911 system was down, and locals were advised to contact the police department directly.

Ed Sniffen of the Hawaii Department of Transportation reported that at least 4,000 visitors were trying to leave western Maui. Even though at least 16 roads were closed, Sniffen said the Maui airport was fully operational, and airlines were slashing prices and providing waivers to get people off the island.

The County of Maui issued a news release requesting visitors with vehicles or any form of transportation to depart Lahaina and Maui as soon as possible due to the limited resources available during this time of crisis. Mass bus evacuation for guests will be set up at the Sheraton Maui Resort in Kaanapali, transporting guests directly to Kahului Airport. The transportation will be provided by five County of Maui buses, each with a capacity of 49 passengers, and five Polynesian Adventure Tours buses, each with a capacity of 50 passengers.

Lahaina, the tourist hub of Maui, lost several important historical sites to fires. A number of structures along Lahaina’s historic Front Street have been impacted. One of the largest banyan trees in the US, a towering tree that was brought to the island from India in 1873, is among the losses. Just west of the tree, the Lahaina Heritage Museum, which is housed in a courthouse, has been burned so severely that only the walls are left standing. The Baldwin Home Museum, one of the island’s oldest house built in the 1830s, has been reduced to ash.