Many people were angry on Saturday (Aug 12) about how the authorities dealt with a terrible fire that destroyed a town in Hawaii and killed at least 80 people.
The fire burned everything on its way and damaged or ruined more than 2,200 buildings in Lahaina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.
The fire cost US$5.5 billion and left thousands of people homeless. Hawaii’s government said they would investigate how the fire was handled.
A congresswoman from Hawaii said that the officials did not realize how dangerous the fire was. Some people who lived in Lahaina said they did not get any warnings.
It was the worst fire in the US in the last 100 years. It killed more people than the 85 who died in California’s Camp Fire in 2018.
The governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, said it was “an impossible day” but praised the firefighters and police. He said it was the biggest disaster that Hawaii had ever faced.
Workers are looking for victims in the burned houses in Lahaina on Maui island. They are using tools and dogs to search. They mark the houses that they have searched with an orange X.
If they find human remains, they mark them with HR. They are asking people who have missing relatives to give DNA samples to help them identify the victims
The fire was the deadliest in the US since 1918, when 453 people died in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to a group that studies fires called the National Fire Protection Association.
Hawaii’s Attorney General, Anne Lopez, said her office would look into “the decisions and policies that were made before, during and after the fires on Maui and Hawaii islands this week”.
Maui had many power outages during the fire, which made it hard for many people to get emergency messages on their phones. Tokuda, a congresswoman from Hawaii, said that the officials should have planned for that. There were no emergency sirens, and many people in Lahaina said they only found out about the fire because of their neighbours.
The fire turned hundreds of houses into ashes and made many people homeless. It is still hard to communicate with some areas, because 30 cell phone towers are not working. It will take several weeks to restore power on the west side of the island.
Geoff Bogar, a retired fire captain, and his friend Franklin Trejos tried to help other people in Lahaina and save Bogar’s house. But they had to leave when the fire got too close on Tuesday afternoon.
They each got into their own car. Bogar’s car did not start, so he broke a window to get out.
He crawled on the ground until a police officer found him and took him to a hospital. Trejos did not make it. When Bogar came back the next day, he found his friend’s bones in his car’s back seat.
He also found his three-year-old golden retriever Sam, who Trejos had tried to protect. Earlier this summer, smoke from fires in Canada reached New York and other US cities, making the air quality worse.