The fires, which began in the early morning hours, quickly spread through dry brush and vegetation, fueled by strong winds. The flames trapped people in their homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.
“This is a tragedy,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said at a news conference. “We have lost six of our residents, and our hearts go out to their families and loved ones.”
The fires were still burning out of control on Thursday evening, and officials said it was unclear when they would be contained. The National Guard was deployed to help with the firefighting efforts, and President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the island.
The fires have caused widespread damage to Maui’s infrastructure. Roads have been closed, power lines have been downed, and cell phone service has been interrupted.
The Red Cross has set up shelters for those who have been displaced by the fires. The organization is also providing food, water, and other essential supplies to those in need.
The cause of the fires is still under investigation. However, officials said they believe they were started by downed power lines.
The wildfires are a reminder of the dangers of wildfires in Hawaii. The islands are prone to dry weather and strong winds, which can create the perfect conditions for wildfires to spread quickly.
Residents of Hawaii should be prepared for wildfires by having a plan in place in case they are forced to evacuate. They should also have a fire extinguisher and other safety supplies on hand.