‘A heart-breaking day’: 53 die after Hawaii wildfires – as governor warns fatalities will rise

US News

At least 53 people have died following devastating wildfires in Hawaii – with the state’s governor describing it as a “heart-breaking day”.

Speaking at a news conference, Josh Green said this was “likely the largest natural disaster” in the state’s history.

He warned that the number of fatalities will rise further, and will probably surpass the 61 lives lost after a tsunami in 1960.

“What we’ve seen today has been catastrophic, but we tell you there’s going to be a team effort to bring our state back,” Mr Green told reporters.

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He added that many hundreds of homes have been destroyed – and thousands of people are in need of temporary accommodation.

The county of Maui Mayor Richard Bissen addressed those whose homes have not been damaged by the fires but who have been evacuated.

“I know the question on your mind is: When can I get back to my home?,” he said, urging people to wait until “we have recovered those that have perished”.

“Please allow us to complete this process before we allow people back into their homes,” Mr Bissen said.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and Governor Green says the thousands of people displaced will require housing.

The state is initially seeking 2,000 rooms to accommodate them, and will reach out to hotels.

Read more:
Images show devastation on island of Maui
Telescope captures deadly Hawaii fires
‘We were totally shocked by what we saw’

But Mr Green has also called for anyone with spare rooms across the island of Maui to open up their homes to those needing shelter.

“If you have additional space in your home, if you have the capacity to house somebody… please consider bringing those people into your lives,” Green said.

Fuelled by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, the fire started on Tuesday and took Maui by surprise, racing through parched growth covering the island and then feasting on homes and anything else that lay in its path.

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