An out-of-control wildfire on Maui is so devastating that Hawaiians are throwing themselves into the ocean to escape the flames.
Even emergency personnel may not be able to help as 911 services and communications are cut off in Maui due to the inferno fueled as part of Hurricane Dora.
“911 is down. Cell service is disabled. Phone service is down,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke told CNN Wednesday morning.
“Our hospital system in Maui is overburdened with burn patients and those suffering from inhalation.”
The disaster knocked out power to about 14,000 homes and businesses on Maui. PowerOutage.us.
Clint Hansen took drone video Tuesday night that showed the wildfire spreading north of Kihei.
Clint Hansen of Maui Real Estate Radio
Clint Hansen filmed this footage of the devastating fires on the island of Maui.
“Lahaina is devastated,” Hansen told CNN. “People who jumped into the sea to escape the flames were rescued by the Coast Guard. All boat owners are requested to rescue people. Its apocalyptic.”
A dozen people were rescued near Lahaina after “entering the ocean due to smoke and fire conditions,” Coast Guard and county officials said. “The individuals were transported to safer areas by the Coast Guard,” Maui County officials said in a statement. Press release.
And it’s unclear where the disaster will go next.
Maui fire officials warned that erratic winds, challenging terrain, steep slopes and decreasing humidity, the direction and location of fire conditions will make it difficult to predict the wildfire’s path and speed. Maui County officials.
“A fire can be a mile or more from your house, but it can be at your house in a minute or two,” said Maui County Fire Assistant CEO Jeff Giesea. “Burning of airborne materials can spread fires far away from the main fire area.”
AP by Matthew Thayer/The Maui News
Members of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources wildland fire crews battle a fire in Kula, Hawaii, on Tuesday.
The flames destroyed businesses on Lahaina’s Front Street. CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now reported.
“The buildings on both sides were surrounded. There were no fire engines at the scene; I think the fire department is overwhelmed,” business owner Alan Dicker told the outlet. “It’s the most important commercial street in Maui.”
Elsewhere on the island, the mountain fire is estimated at about 1,000 acres, county officials said. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Dora, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph, was about 740 miles southwest of Honolulu late Tuesday (5 a.m. ET Wednesday). National Hurricane Center said. No hurricane watch or warning is in effect for Hawaii.
Courtesy Sam Postuma
Smoke rises from a wildfire Tuesday in Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Traveling south of the Dora Islands, there is a strong high pressure system to the north. The National Weather Service said the area of high pressure combined with Dora would “produce very strong and damaging winds.”
Winds are expected to reach 60 mph overnight, then begin to decrease throughout the day Wednesday.
“These strong winds combined with low humidity will create dangerous fire weather conditions that will last through Wednesday afternoon,” the weather service said.
By Wednesday afternoon, the high pressure area and Dora will move west, allowing winds to decrease.
Two brush fires were burning on the Big Island Tuesday, officials said Press release, one in North Kohala District and the other in South Kohala District. Some residents were under mandatory evacuation orders as power outages affected communications, the release said.
Luke, who is acting governor as Gov. Josh Green is traveling out of state, issued an emergency declaration regarding the fires on Tuesday.
Smoke billows from Tuesday’s fire in Lahaina, Maui County.
“We are closely monitoring wildfires fueled by Hurricane Dora’s strong winds,” Luke said in a statement. Report. “The safety of our residents is paramount, and this emergency declaration will enable the Hawaii National Guard to support emergency responders in affected communities.”
Green has been thoroughly briefed on Dora and its implications, according to the news release.
“Lt. Governor Luke has my full support,” Green said. “My thoughts are with the residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Dora.”
In the Americas, A Tuesday’s brush fire in Cedar Park, Texas, destroyed one apartment building, damaged others and prompted evacuation orders. The fire destroyed about 50 acres of land in the suburbs of Austin.