Worrying visuals of wildfires are flooding the internet. Some of them are so horrific that they seems to be from some movie scene. Alas! they are not a work of fiction but a cruel reality, that has taken the lives of many and disrupted everyday living.
The wildfires in Hawaii have taken the lives of at least six people, and dozens were wounded. Further, 271 structures have been damaged or destroyed. The fires have been raging across two of Hawaii’s islands, trapping locals and visitors as strong winds linked to Hurricane Dora hampered efforts by authorities to contain the fires. The fire has destroyed much of the popular tourist town of Lahaina on the island of Maui.
The residents are being forced to take shelter in the ocean as the whole of Lahaina rages in wildfire. The fires have caused mass evacuations and decimated buildings throughout the island. Furthermore, the shelters are overrun, and power is out for more than 2,000 residents. It has also become a great difficulty to access the west side of the island, hampered by mass road closures. However, according to the officials, rescue efforts are still underway and the immediate priority is being given to saving lives.
Amid this, the Hawaii Governor Josh Green (D) has warned that the state does not have enough shelter for long-term living, and urged visitors to leave or cancel nonessential travel for Maui to open up hotel rooms, Airbnb listings and other accommodations for the displaced.
Cause of the Wildfire
Several large wildfires across Hawaii have been fuelled by winds connected to hurricane Dora. Moreover, the dry conditions are also being blamed for the fire.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, months of drought exposed the islands for fire risks, with more than a third of Maui County under at least moderate drought as of August 1. Abnormally dry conditions developed rapidly there in June and have persisted, with slightly below-normal precipitation during what is a typically dry time of year.
According to Erica Fleishman, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University, “Climate change in many parts of the world is increasing vegetation dryness, in large part because temperatures are hotter.” Even if you have the same amount of precipitation, if you have higher temperatures, things dry out faster, she added.
The fires have destroyed hundreds of acres in regions including Kula, North Kohala and South Kohala.