At least six people have died and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed as wildfires ravaged a town on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
The wildfires began Tuesday morning as Hurricane Dora picked up strong winds from hundreds of miles south in the Pacific Ocean.
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. announced Wednesday that six people were killed in the devastation, but said others were still missing.
Over 270 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and dozens were seriously injured.
“We’re still in search and rescue mode, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with that number,” Bissen said.
He added that more than 2,100 people are using the five shelters that have been opened as a result of the fires.
Some shelters and hotels on the island are without electricity.
Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke said Wednesday that some of the shelters were “overrun”.
Luke too said CNN that Maui’s hospital system was “overwhelmed with burn patients, people suffering from inhalation.”
Burn patients were flown from Maui to Oahu. CBS News reported.
At least 20 patients were taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center.
“The reality is we have to fly people out of Maui to help them with burns,” Luke said.
“911 is down. Cellular service is down. Telephone service is down. And that was part of the problem.”
DESTROYED AND RELOCATED
Lahaina, a tourist town of about 12,000 people, was devastated by the fires.
On Wednesday, the fires forced people to seek refuge in the sea as flames and smoke increased.
The Coast Guard told CBS News that 12 people who jumped into the water were rescued in Lahaina.
Gov. Josh Green said in a statement that the city was “devastated and hundreds of local families displaced.”
Now Hawaii’s emergency management agency tweeted An update said 13 areas in the county of Maui have been evacuated and more than 2,600 customers remain without power as of Wednesday.
Residents have also been urged to conserve water while firefighters continue to fight the fires.
At that time, officials also advised against non-essential travel to the island.
Luke said tourists would be arriving on Maui starting Wednesday morning but urged them to stay away.
All roads to West Maui and Lahaina were closed Wednesday morning.
“This is not a safe place,” Luke said.
“We have resources that are taxed.”
As of 4 p.m. local time Wednesday afternoon, the Hawaii Department of Transportation was working on a mass evacuation of visitors.
“Due to limited resources during this time of crisis, visitors with vehicles or other transportation are asked to leave Lahaina and Maui as soon as possible,” the statement said.
Tourists are taken to Kahului Airport where seats are available on outbound flights.
Local residents and reporters have shared images from the island, while others watch the fires from afar.
“Totally devastated by the wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. It’s no exaggeration to say Lahaina is off the map,” said one person tweeted along with drone footage of the wildfires.
“Lahaina Town on Maui almost completely burned down. Firefighters are still trying to get the fires under control and our first responders are in search and rescue mode,” Senator Brian Schatz tweeted.
“It brings tears to my eyes to think of the beautiful people of Maui who have been impacted by this tragedy,” one tweeted.
“Absolutely devastating. I spent my honeymoon there – I still cook dinner from Longhi’s cookbook. The families there are heartbroken,” wrote another.