U.S.

Hawaii's Lahaina residents to return to wildfire-devastated properties

During the wildfire, residents had to hastily evacuate to seek refuge, leaving absolutely everything behind.

Wildfire wreckage is shown on Aug. 11, 2023, in Lahaina.
Rick Bowmer / AP
SMS

Authorities will start the process of allowing the initial group of residents and property owners to return to their severely damaged properties in Lahaina on Monday.

Many will see their homes for the first time since the devastating Maui wildfires ravaged through the historic town almost seven weeks ago.

“A high level of support will be provided to returning residents during the first two days of re-entry, including water, shade, washing stations, portable toilets, medical and mental health care, Maui Bus transportation from local hotel shelters, and language assistance,” Maui County said in a press release.

Authorities divided the burned area into several zones. Zone 1C, in the north side of Lahaina, is the first approved for reentry, with visits allowed for Monday and Tuesday through 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“They anticipate some people will only want to go for a very short period of time—a few minutes to say goodbye in a way to their property," said Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, the Associated Press reported. "Others may want to stay several hours. They’re going to be very accommodating.”

During the wildfire, residents had to hastily evacuate as wind-driven flames quickly swept through Lahaina; some survivors even resorted to jumping over a sea wall, seeking refuge in the waves, and leaving absolutely everything behind.

Ultimately, the wildfire claimed the lives of at least 97 people, lower than what was previously reported at 115, and destroyed over 2,000 structures, mostly homes.

Authorities are cautioning against sifting through the ashes due to concerns about the potential release of toxic dust.

Maui officials stated that more areas will reopen to residents gradually after inspections confirm their safety for reentry.

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