Lahaina wildfire - the extent of the devastation revealed

Loss projected to be the second largest in Hawaii's history

Lahaina wildfire - the extent of the devastation revealed

Catastrophe & Flood

By Mika Pangilinan

Total insured loss from the Lahaina wildfire is projected to be the second largest in the history of Hawaii, according to estimates from Karen Clark & Company (KCC).

The fire that ignited on Tuesday has reportedly engulfed an area of approximately 2,200 acres, fueled by dry conditions, low humidity, and strong winds.

Lahaina is located on the west coast of Maui, which experienced below-average precipitation throughout the spring and summer months, resulting in tinder-dry conditions.

Additionally, Hurricane Dora's passage to the south and a powerful high-pressure system to the north created a potent pressure gradient, propelling wind speeds of up to 60 mph that rapidly spread the flames.

According to KCC’s estimates, the Lahaina wildfire has impacted some 3,500 structures within its perimeter. The only event to surpass this level of destruction in Hawaii’s recent history is Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has said that the damage caused by the fire is estimated at close to $6 billion.

An update from Maui County has also raised the death toll to 93 on early Sunday, making it one of the deadliest US wildfires in over a hundred years.

“This fire was very fast, moving in horizontal nature, low to the ground and outpaced anything the firefighters could have done in the early hours,” said US Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell. “The heroic actions of the firefighters in response to this wildfire in Maui needs to be commended. FEMA is on the ground and will continue to support Hawaii throughout the response and recovery process, ensuring resilience is part of that plan.”

Lahaina has experienced its share of wildfires in the last two decades. The Olowalu fire in 2007 consumed 2,500 acres, and the Maalaea Fire in 2016 scorched 6,000 acres.

Fire outbreaks in Hawaii tend to start in expansive grasslands on the arid sides of the islands, KCC noted in its news release. On Maui, these arid regions encompass the leeward areas to the west and south of the island.

Authorities have reported that the fire is 85% contained as of Sunday afternoon.

What are your thoughts on the devastation in Lahaina? Feel free to comment below.

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