The death toll from Maui wildfires jumped to 67 and is expected to rise in the coming days, with 1,500 people still missing.
Richard Bissen Jr., the mayor of Maui, said rescue workers have not yet started scouring the streets and buildings.
Reports revealed that the emergency preparations placed the risk of wildfires as low – below that of hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.
When Hawaii’s governor Josh Green was asked by Wolf Blitzer whether they were complacent, he said that the blaze was impossible to predict.
“We do have wildfires every year. But we’ve always been able to contain them,” he replied. “Whether the factors were different this year?
“I’ve been in Hawaii 24 years and never seen the convergence of a hurricane and a wildfire anywhere near our towns. These things do occur, but that was in a rural area with grass.”
The governor also defended his team’s efforts.
“We do what we can with the resources we have, far from the mainland,” he went on.
“This is the first time we’ve ever seen anything like this.”
According to a 2022 report entitled ‘State of Hawaii Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan – Base Plan,’ wildfires were considered low risk to residents.
The officials concluded that there was a greater threat from drought, landslides, infrastructure failure, and terrorism.
But other documents cited by CNN showed that the officials knew about the increasing threat from wildfires.
Tailwinds from Hurricane Lane sparked a wildfire in Maui and burned 2,000 acres in 2018.
“The approaching storm stretched public safety resources and complicated the suppression response, with strong winds grounding air support and the fire forcing evacuation of a storm shelter within hours of predicted hurricane landfall,” a 2021 report from Maui county read.
The wildfires burned about 150 acres of active farmland, 21 residential buildings and 27 vehicles.
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