Maui Authorities Gradually Reopen Lahaina After Devastating Wildfire


Last month’s ferocious wildfire in Maui, which left a swath of char through the historic coastal town of Lahaina, had heretofore been off-limits to its residents and those who owned property within the calamity-struck zone. However, recent developments have seen authorities gradually re-opening the devastated parts of the town.

At the onset of the week, cautious welcome was extended to inhabitants of a minor section located on the town’s north end for their initial return since the unfortunate incident on August 8. The following Monday and Tuesday will see this concession expanded to include residents of three additional streets, a revelation contained in Maui County’s Thursday news release.

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The wildfire, counted among the deadliest in the U.S. in over a hundred years, claimed the lives of 97 individuals and turned over 2,000 structures into mere ashes. The majority of these were dwellings. The conflagration sparked off on a windy morning when it is suspected that a power line from Hawaiian Electric fell, kindling the dry brush and grass.

Although initial efforts at controlling the blaze were deemed successful, it soon rekindled near its original location around 3 p.m. and rapidly swept through the town. A congressional hearing, aimed at exploring the part played by the electrical grid in the disaster, provided little insight into causes.

Post-fire endeavours were fraught with obstacles as well. In the immediate aftermath, residents were permitted to return to their land to survey the destruction. However, the affected area was promptly cordoned off for all but authorised personnel, such as teams from the Environmental Protection Agency assigned to hazardous material removal.

In their guidance to the returning residents, officials have counselled against scavenging through the remains for fear of lifting toxic dust into the air. Yet, this warning hasn’t deterred some families from attempting to recover precious mementoes and heirlooms from the remains of their homes.