Search operations are still underway in Hawaii after deadly wildfires. At least 96 people have been confirmed dead. Meanwhile, the mayor of the region, Richard Bissen, decided to explain why no alarm systems were activated.
The tragic balance of fires in Hawaii has increased again. After finding three more victims, authorities said at least 96 people had died due to the fire. The search operation is still ongoing, so it is possible that this is not the end of the bad news.
Sniffer dogs came into action over the weekend. However, only three percent of the burnt area has been searched so far.
“We collect the remains and they disintegrate,” said John Pelletier of the local police. “None of us yet know the full extent of this tragedy,” he told the BBC.
To make matters worse, fires are still smoldering in places in Lahaina and other areas of western Maui.
Anger and regret
The region is slowly recovering from the tragedy. There is growing anger among the population towards the authorities, who did not issue any warning in due time. No alarm sirens were activated, nor were messages sent to the telephone.
On Sunday, Richard Bissen, the mayor of Maui County, Hawaii, was asked about it. His response did not please the public.
– Generally, we don’t have sirens in case of fires. I don’t know if they are in any other condition. The sirens tell you to go home, turn on the TV and follow the news. They usually concern tsunami and hurricane warnings. We don’t want people to go home and turn on the TV in case of fires. We prefer that they take preventive action. So I think people might misunderstand the purpose [wydania alarmu – przyp. red.] – he said.
Such explanations, however, mean little to the residents who lost their loved ones and possessions in the space of several hours.
“I never imagined such a big fire”
One of the injured is Nina, whose house was completely consumed by fire. The woman still believes that she was extremely lucky because she managed to escape in time.
“It makes me sad to see my house in such a state. But I managed to escape. I left around midnight on August 8. I am happy because I managed to get out of the fire – she said.
Nina tried to return to Lahaina to try to recover the most valuable items. The roads leading to the city are blocked all the time. Temporary shelters and help centers have been set up in the city.
– I never imagined such a big fire. I’ve lived in Hawaii for over ten years and this has never happened before. […] It’s really a disaster,” she concluded.
>>> Read more: Fire in Hawaii. Stories of Hawaiians who survived the fires
The increase in the death toll made the fire the worst recorded natural disaster in Hawaii in more than a century, surpassing the 1960 tsunami that killed 61 people.
Main photo source: Reuters