All over Maui, golf courses glisten emerald green, hotels manage to fill their pools and corporations stockpile water to sell to luxury estates. And yet, when it came time to fight the fires, some hoses ran dry. Why?
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The sticky notes began collecting on an easel outside the Lahaina fire evacuation center in Wailuku, Maui, as soon as it opened last week.
Hawaii’s climate future: Dry regions get drier with global warming, increasing fire risk − while wet areas get wetter
The islands of Hawaii are world renowned for their generally pleasant and tranquil weather. However, the Aug. 8, 2023, wildfire tragedy on Maui was a stark reminder that Hawaii also can experience drought and hot, dry, windy weather, providing the conditions for destructive fires.
DNA specialists who have been working with Ukrainian investigators to document suspected Russian war crimes. Veterans of the post-Sept. 11 search at ground zero. Anthropologists who were enlisted to examine human remains after the California wildfire that until last week was America’s deadliest in more than a century.
As Vene Chun guided his Hawaiian canoe to shore past tourists learning to surf at one of Maui’s public beaches, his thoughts were a jumble.
The death toll from wildfires on Maui is nearing 100 as teams continue to search through the rubble caused by the country’s deadliest wildfire in a century, destroying the historic town of Lahaina and causing what Gov. Josh Green estimates to be $6 billion in damage.
At 10:47 p.m. last Monday, a security camera at the Maui Bird Conservation Center captured a bright flash in the woods, illuminating the trees swaying in the wind. “I think that is when a tree is falling on a power line,” says Jennifer Pribble, a senior research coordinator at the center, in a video posted on Instagram.
Plantation-era wooden buildings turned to ashes. Landmarks made from coral, lava rock and concrete hollowed out by flames. A once-quaint historic street blackened and wrecked.
As scientists weigh the influence climate change may have had in fueling Hawaii’s wildfires, there isn’t one standout factor they point to. Rising temperatures likely contributed to the severity of the blaze in several ways. But global warming could not have driven the fires by itself.