Biden sends military to help with brutal Hawaii wildfires
The Hawaii National Guard has mobilized Chinook helicopters to help with fire suppression and search and rescue operations
President Joe Biden said in a statement on Wednesday evening that he has ordered all available Federal assets to help combat wildfires that have devastated parts of the Hawaiian island of Maui, killing at least six people.
The president said the Coast Guard and Navy are supporting response and rescue efforts, while the Marines are providing Black Hawk helicopters to fight the fires.
The Hawaii National Guard has mobilized Chinook helicopters to help with fire suppression and search and rescue operations.
Biden said the Transportation Department is working with commercial airlines to evacuate tourists from the island, while the Interior and Agriculture departments stand ready to support post fire recovery efforts.
In his statement, the president offered condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones and expressed gratitude toward the brave firefighters and first responders who continue to run toward danger.
Firefighting crews were continuing to battle fires in Lahaina, Pulehu and Upcountry, the County of Maui said on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.
More than 2,100 people were housed overnight in four emergency shelters, the county said. Another 2,000 travelers were sheltering at the Kahului Airport.
The wildfires ripping through Maui left a swath of devastation for blocks in the historic town of Lahaina, videos and photos of the tourist destination show.
Historic buildings along Lahaina's popular Front Street were charred and flattened skeletons on Wednesday, powerlines were draped across roadways and abandoned cars were blackened husks.
Officials are preparing the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu to accommodate up to 4,000 people displaced by the wildfires that swept across parts of Maui.
Kahului Airport, the main airport in Maui, was sheltering 2,000 travelers whose flights were canceled or who recently arrived on the island, the county said on Facebook.
The tourists were among those expected to be brought to the convention center.
One of the wildfires burned through the town of Lahaina in the middle of the night, some residents fleeing into the ocean to escape the smoke and flames.
The Coast Guard reported rescuing 14 people from the ocean off Lahaina, including two young children who were reunited with family members.
The fires were worsened by high winds from Hurricane Dora, which was passing south of the island chain.
At least six people have been killed in wildfires that have raced across parts of Maui, Mayor Bissen said.
Bissen confirmed the deaths during a press conference Wednesday, but did not provide details, such as where the people were when they died.
Three separate wildfires have been burning on the Hawaiian island of Maui, including one that destroyed much of the historic town of Lahaina.
The fires prompted 13 evacuations, Bissen said, and there was only one road in and out.
More than 2,100 people spent the night in four shelters on the island. State officials said they did not want any visitors to come to Maui, and that current visitors should leave.
Officials have released very little information about the scope of damage caused by the wildfires, but satellite images from NASA appeared to show active flames throughout much of the historic town of Lahaina. Another Maui wildfire was burning near the town of Kihei.
The satellite images seemed to support some videos and photos posted to social media sites that showed flames roaring through the town and burned-down buildings.
Alan Dickar's Vintage European Posters gallery has been fixture on Front Street in Lahaina for 23 years.
But he watched the wildfires engulf the main strip of shops on Tuesday, and now is not sure what is left of his gallery. Front Street is popular with tourists, and Dickar said it was the economic heart of this island.