On the morning of August 8, Lahaina residents woke up without electricity due to powerful winds lingering from the tail end of Hurricane Dora. School was cancelled, leaving children at home.
A fire broke out early in the morning around 6:30 a.m., only to be purportedly fully controlled about two hours later. Community members were not alarmed, as brush fires occur frequently. However, the 13,000 residents did not anticipate their town would be obliterated on the same day, leaving nothing but ashes behind.
The exact cause of the fire has not been officially determined, but an investigation is currently underway to determine the role played by Hawaii Electric.
In fact, several sources suggest that the fire might have been triggered by a broken electrical wire that fell and ignited the blaze. Hawaii Electric is known to have a deficient, unstable, and fragile network due to infrastructure maintenance negligence.
In total, 2,200 buildings were reduced to ashes, with 86% being residences. The restricted access to the town made the evacuation challenging, with just one main road open as an exit to neighbouring villages. Cars were bumper to bumper waiting for evacuation, with some tragically perishing in their vehicles.
The death toll remains unknown as several hundred people are still missing. Officials anticipate the toll to rise beyond the reported 114 deaths so far.
The incomprehensible question remains: why were the sirens not activated that day? According to the Maui Emergency Management Agency director, Herman Andaya, he made the final decision not to activate the sirens because he feared people would hear them and head "Mauka," which means towards the mountains.
Emergency powers have been granted to the state's governor, Josh Green, to facilitate and expedite the reconstruction of Lahaina.
In an interview, Gov. Green mentioned his desire to acquire a portion of the land to protect it from attempts by investors to take over properties. Despite this, citizens remain highly skeptical of Josh Green's motivations.
Special authorization is required for media coverage. Even flying a drone requires a special code. Furthermore, black fences have been erected to block media and tourist views, preventing photography of parts of the town.
The headquarters of the national police have also been fenced off. Access is granted only to individuals on a special list. Hence, information is scarcely accessible to the public.
For all of our reporting from Maui, visit TheTruthAboutMaui.com.