Recovery teams have searched just 40% of fire-ravaged Lahaina as death toll stands at 111

Specialized recovery teams armed with cadaver dogs have searched about 40% of fire-ravaged Lahaina town for remains, Maui County said Thursday.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 1:24 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 17, 2023 at 12:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Specialized recovery teams armed with cadaver dogs have searched about 40% of fire-ravaged Lahaina town for remains, Maui County said Thursday.

The Lahaina wildfire death toll increased by five on Wednesday — to 111 — more than a week after flames ripped through the historic town. Meanwhile, Maui continued to slowly release the names of those who died. Three more victims, all elderly, were identified as more positive IDs were made.

See the full list of those who have been formally identified so far by clicking here.

Also on Wednesday, officials responded to mounting questions about the crisis.

Gov. Josh Green bristled at suggestions that there is growing distrust and frustration to government’s response to the wildfire, suggesting those are rumors being spread on social media.

And Maui’s Emergency Management officials pushed back against questions about why sirens weren’t sounded, saying that could have worsened the situation by prompting people to flee toward the flames. At the same time, Green said the state will conduct a thorough review of what happened to determine if protocols should be changed or if additional systems are need.

Why keep Lahaina’s sirens silent? Maui County again defends the decision

Maui’s emergency management director was at Oahu conference as wildfires raged

Maui Emergency Management Agency Administrator Herman Andaya explains why he didn't sound the sirens when the deadly brush fires quickly spread.

As the work of understanding what happened continues, so too does the slow, grueling task of recovering remains. Some 30 teams armed with cadaver dogs are searching the charred ruins of Lahaina town, focusing on a miles-wide area of burned-out cars, homes and businesses.

Authorities have repeatedly said it’s not clear how many were killed in the fire.

But the number of people unaccounted for has stubbornly remained at about 1,000, suggesting that the death toll will almost undoubtedly increase.

Already the wildfire is the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century.

Officials on Wednesday said that 35 autopsies have been completed so far and seven people have been identified — five by fingerprints and two by DNA.

Also on Wednesday, the White House announced that President Biden and the first lady will travel to Maui early next week to meet with wildfire victims, first responders and officials.

Biden has pledged an all-of-government response to the wildfire, which has prompted an outpouring of support from across the country and world. There are hundreds of FEMA and other disaster response workers on the ground and millions in disaster aid has already been disbursed.