According to Hawaii’s governor, the first residents were able to return to their homes on Friday after the devastating fires in western Maui. Josh Green warned about the condition of the houses. “You’re going to see a level of destruction like you’ve never seen in your life,” Green told KHON2.

The number of deaths confirmed by the Maui district after the devastating fires had risen to 55 late Thursday evening (local time). The county mayor explained that this includes first those found outside of buildings and more deaths are likely. Specially trained rescue teams would first have to arrive on the island to search for bodies in the rubble of burnt down buildings. About 1,700 buildings were destroyed, according to CNN. According to the website poweroutage.us, around 11,000 households were still without electricity on Friday morning (local time).

There are still people missing. How many, however, is difficult to say, citing Maui’s police chief John Pelletier. This is also due to the fact that mobile communications have collapsed.

Seaside town burned down

Maui has an area of ‚Äč‚Äčaround 1900 square kilometers, just over two-thirds the size of Saarland. In the coastal town of Lahaina, which was particularly badly affected by the fires, the fire brigade was able to bring around 80 percent of the fire under control by the evening, according to Pelletier. However, the residents of the popular tourist resort with its many wooden houses are still forbidden from access because the rescue work is ongoing. Additional rescue teams with cadaver dogs from California and the state of Washington are on their way to Maui, it said. “None of that is there anymore. It’s all burned down,” said Lahaina Mayor Richard Bissen.

Hawaii’s governor Josh Green was also shocked: “When you see the full extent of the destruction in Lahaina, it’s shocking. It looks like a bomb went off and then a fire broke out.” Virtually all buildings would have to be rebuilt. This will be in the billions of dollars. At the same time, he called on the hotels to take in the thousands of residents who had become homeless.

According to the media, six emergency shelters are currently in operation. Around 30,000 visitors have now been flown out, reported the broadcaster CNN, citing the tourism authority. Several fires broke out on Maui and the neighboring island of Hawaii on Tuesday, which were quickly enlarged by strong winds.