Maui Inferno's Death Toll Sharply Increases as Search Presses On

Aug 14, 2023

The death toll from the raging wildfire on Hawaii’s island of Maui continued to rise over the weekend. It reached 93 by Sunday night. Rescue efforts carry forward in earnest as hospitals overflow with burn patients. 

The blaze is officially the deadliest US wildfire in more than 100 years. Rescue crews with cadaver dogs have combed through what remains of burned-out structures. The fire, described as an “inferno,” absolutely destroyed Lāhainā. It was the tourism heart of Maui and the island's largest city.  

“We’ve got an area that we have to contain that is at least 5 square miles,” Maui's police chief told reporters. "It is full of our loved ones."

The fire burned at least 2,200 buildings, officials said. Most of those were single-family homes. The overall damage was estimated at $6 billion. More than 4,500 people need shelter. Over 1,000 remain missing.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green told reporters that the fires are “the worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced.” He added, “We can only wait and support those who are living. Our focus now is to reunite people when we can and get them housing and get them health care." After that is done, he said, they can "turn to rebuilding.”

Lāhainā residents have criticized a siren warning system that they say failed to work during the disaster. They also complained that help has been slow to arrive. President Biden issued a federal disaster declaration on Thursday. He said at the time that “every asset we have will be available to them.”

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: How do you think people can come together to help each other and rebuild their community after something as devastating as a wildfire? What are some ways you might help if you were in this situation?

Which paragraph from the story develops the reader’s understanding of how Lāhainā residents feel about the rescue efforts? (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. introduction
b. second paragraph
c. fourth paragraph
d. conclusion
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