No news is good news in the world of wildfire. Until this week in Lahaina, our neighbors to the north have had the headlines in terms of wildfire action this year. Seemingly, only because of the smoke impacts on our soil. Fortunately, our public fire agencies are pretty darn good at putting ours out when the conditions are in their favor. Sadly, the trend seems to be that the recipe for fire to spread wild and dangerously are becoming more common. The last wind-driven wildfire that caused this type of destruction was the Marshall fire in Colorado was almost two years ago. A welcomed lull in terms of these types of events, at least domestically.
Outside of wildfires though, it seemed the earth was gearing up for something like this again. In 2023, climate extremes seem abundant. Last winter, California and Utah had their largest snow pack winters in years, despite La Nina conditions. This July was the hottest month on record, worldwide. The water in the Caribbean is unseasonably warm and contributing to increasing hurricane forecasts for the rest of its season.
Last year we touched on cascading disasters becoming all too normal. This week, another instance of the link between natural disasters. Major Hurricane Dora travelled well south of the Hawaiian Islands. Some 700 miles south. But the size and pressure of the storm, sent windy conditions to the already dry County of Maui, prompting Red Flag Warnings on the island. Like out of a horror story, multiple fires broke out Tuesday in those windy conditions, and the rest is history. The story centers on Lahaina where startling images of a wasteland, from what used to be a beautiful coastal town, have emerged this week. Unfortunately, so have tales of harrowing escape and reports of hundreds of homes lost along with numerous fatalities. These stories have become all too common. We’ve written about them before… This situation has already been called the worst disaster in Hawaiian history. Local and federal agencies are still trying to make sense of what happened, how is happened, and how to start on the road to recovery.
By our count, nearly 2000 structures have burned in Lahaina. Which is most of the town. As of this writing over 50 fatalities have been confirmed, and the search hasn’t even started in the rubble. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this chapter, and fear that number will continue to rise.