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VIDEO: Hawaii, Maui officials provide updates on wildfire response efforts

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VIDEO BY OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR OF HAWAII
State and county leaders held a news conference this morning to provide an update on the destructive wildfires on Maui and Hawaii island.

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

At least six people died and apparently, nearly 30 were injured from the Maui fires that continue to burn out of control today, fueled by high winds.

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. had just received an update on the number of confirmed deaths and six of the injured before the start of a news conference this morning and did not have details on how the six people died.

But six of the injured victims were flown to Oahu, including three who suffered burns and were being treated at Straub Medical Center, Bissen said. A firefighter also suffered from smoke inhalation and was flown to Oahu in stable condition.

He said search-and-rescue missions were ongoing so he did not know what the final casualty numbers will be.

But Gov. Josh Green, who cut short a visit to Boston to fly back to Oahu tonight, told Hawaii News Now earlier today that 20 people were treated at Maui Memorial Medical Center for serious burns and three were flown to Straub with severe burns.

Green also told HNN that there were 14 confirmed water rescues.

Authorities do not yet know what caused the wildfires. But the National Weather Service had called the conditions on Maui “a red flag” situation with dry foliage, low humidity and high winds, said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, adjutant general of the state Department of Defense, who was appointed incident commander.

Both cell phones and landlines are not working around Lahaina because 29 power poles are down and fiber optics were destroyed. Officials are communicating with one another, mostly relying on radios, Bissen said.

Maui is no stranger to wildfires but state Sen. Lynn DeCoite, (D, East and Upcountry Maui-Molokai-Lanai) told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the fires have left residents in shock.

“There’s a lot of traumatization going on,” she said. “I can’t put a finger on how devastating this is.”

Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke said it will take weeks, possibly months, to fully assess the damage.

Luke signed an emergency proclamation today asking tourists to leave Maui and not to arrive.

The visitor industry is working with officials to house Maui tourists on Oahu either in hotels or at the Hawaii Convention Center. Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth also has offered Big Island hotels.

The damage could have long-lasting economic effects with tourists staying away and employees possibly losing their jobs at destroyed businesses.

Green cut his personal trip to Boston short by a week and is expected to arrive at midnight tonight and be on Maui Thursday, Luke said.

10:19 a.m.

James Tokioka, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said the Hawaii Convention Center has been prepared to possibly accommodate up to 4,000 people displaced by the wildfires.

10:12 a.m.

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said six fatalities have been confirmed from the wildfires.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

State and county leaders are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. to provide an update on the wildfires and impacts of Hurricane Dora across the state.

Speakers include Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke (serving as Acting Governor); Mayor Richard T. Bissen Jr., County of Maui; Mayor Mitch Roth, County of Hawaii; Major General Kenneth S. Hara, Adjutant General; Hawaii State Department of Defense; James Barros, Administrator, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency; and James Tokioka, Director, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

RELATED COVERAGE

>> Maui Mayor Bissen confirms at least 6 killed by huge wildfires

>> Red flag warning for all islands extended as winds continue

>> A list of open emergency shelters, closed schools and roads

>> Convention Center ready to shelter up to 4,000 Maui evacuees

>> Maui’s War Memorial Complex accepting donations for fire evacuees

>> Lahaina burns as high winds fuel wildfires on Maui, Big Island

>> More than 12K without power on Maui, extended outages expected

>> Hawaii island still battling 3 blazes in Kohala


Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.


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