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The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

Maui island devastated by ferocious wildfires

The historic Waiola Church and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in flames on Aug. 8, 2023. Photo published with the permission of the photographer.
Courtesy of Matthew Thayer / The Maui News
The historic Waiola Church and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in flames on Aug. 8, 2023. Photo published with the permission of the photographer.

The peaceful island of Maui has recently been under mass destruction by a disaster that has left wounds on both the land and the people who live there. The damage will take years of rebuilding to recover from, and the island will never be the same again.

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, it was predicted that some power lines along the Olina Road area of Kula, central Maui, had started a small brush fire that later turned into the deadliest wildfire in a century. 

According to reports, a mix of severe weather from Hurricane Dora had downed the power lines which set the inferno’s initial sparks ablaze. Experts say the winds increased the difference in air pressure, which mainly contributed to the spread of the flames. 

The fire immediately spread over the city of Lahaina, and then quickly spread to the entire island of Maui. Many residents and tourists were in a rush to get evacuated and luckily most were able to get to safety.

“My initial reaction to hearing the news was nervousness because we were relatively close (around two miles) from the fire, so I was worried that we would get evacuated,” Elyse Vathanadireg, a Duarte High School sophomore who was in Maui during the start of the fires, said. 

Vathanadireg was able to get to safety before the rush and evacuations were made public.

“Our original hotel did not get evacuated, but my family and I left,” Vathanadireg said. Since the main road was closed, we had to go up North on the island to this one-way road on a cliff side which was about a 2-hour drive.”

Vathandireg’s experience is not unique though, and she could be considered lucky in comparison to the 110 people who still have not been found, or the 115 people who lost their lives as a result of the fire. Countless people have been displaced from their homes on Maui island due to the fire. 

On Sunday, Aug. 13, the Lahaina fire was deemed 85% contained and both the Pulehu and Kihei fires were deemed 100% controlled.

The damage done to the island itself is almost unbelievable. In Lahaina, the part of the island where the fire erupted, at least 2,170 acres of land burned. 

During a visit to Lahaina, Hawaii, President Joe Biden ensured that Maui would be rebuilt and they would receive the government aid they needed. 

President Biden, on Monday, Aug. 21, told survivors of Hawaii’s wildfires that the nation “grieves with you” and promised that the federal government will help Maui, “for as long as it takes” to recover after the most ferocious wildfires the Nation has seen in over a century.

To this day the number of missing people still stands at 110 because of the fires and lack of search and rescue operations. Many people have joined together all over the world in efforts to help the island of Maui recover from this travesty.

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About the Contributors
Joshua Sun
Joshua Sun, Staff Reporter

Joshua Sun is a senior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, and this is his first year in journalism. Sun is a Staff Reporter and has joined journalism because of his interest in a future career as a Sports Analyst, with hopes to report Major league sports games. Even though he doesn’t play any sports, Sun still developed a passion, especially for basketball. Outside school, Sun enjoys hanging out with his friends, working, and playing bass guitar.

Saif Lakhwani
Saif Lakhwani, Assistant Editor-in-Chief
Saif Lakhwani is a senior at RCHS, and this is his second year in journalism. He is the assistant editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, The Cat’s Eye. His favorite thing about journalism is covering the school’s sports teams, and being able to investigate the important things happening on campus. When he is not working on the newspaper, Saif is busy designing clothes for his business Essence Studios, following the Nets, or listening to music. Enneagram/Myers-Briggs:  Type 8/ENTJ Favorite Artist: Kid Cudi  

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