Firefighters fully contain West Maui wildfires that left significant trail of damage
LAHAINA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The West Maui wildfires left behind a trail of destruction larger than initially thought.
On Saturday afternoon, Maui fire officials said the number of structures damaged in the fast-moving Lahaina wildfire grew to 22. Some 30 vehicles were also burned along with a base yard that housed heavy equipment.
Neighbors in the valley, where as many as 13 homes were burned, say nearly 60 people are now displaced because of the fires.
The flames blackened some 2,000 acres fueled by dry brush and strong winds from Tropical Storm Lane. On Sunday, fire officials finally secured the fire, deeming it 100 percent contained.
The blaze, which started early Friday, forced authorities to evacuate more than 100 homes.
"I was just standing at my base yard and I was heartbroken. It was devastating to see this. I've never seen anything like this happen in Lahaina," said Lahaina resident, Jordan Ruidas. "It was like I was looking into a bad dream."
"I know somebody who said they didn't have time to even grab a bag, all they have is the clothes on their back," Ruidas said.
Along the Lahaina Bypass, the devastation is clear along the West Maui Mountains. Many homes in the valleys there are completely gone.
But just like the smoke, the shock of losing everything is beginning to fade away and reality is slowly setting in.
However, Ruidas says the Lahaina community is strong and already starting to rebuild.
She created a fundraising page on Facebook for those needing help, called "Lahaina Strong." She says everything they receive will be divided equally among all affected families.
"We're also in the works of getting a little fundraiser event going, hopefully early September. We're thinking silent auction, small bands, food trucks.
"So if you know anybody, reach out to me please," Ruidas said. "Let's get this going."
"Let's help these families who lost everything they had."
Thousands of dollars in donations have already been raised. For more information on donating to recovery efforts, click here.
On Saturday morning, winds had drastically died down and firefighters seemed to gain the upper hand on the flames.
The flames got dangerously close to Lahainaluna High School and part of the school's field track was burned in the fire.
Fire officials said they began allowing residents to return to their homes about mid-day Friday, and they were also trying to determine the extent of the damage.
One injury was reported: A woman injured in the fire was transported to a hospital.
A separate brush fire in Kaanapali, meanwhile, burned about 800 acres Friday morning before it was fully contained.
The fires forced the re-location of an emergency storm shelter at Lahaina Intermediate School. Some 26 evacuees were at the shelter.
Meanwhile, Maui Electric crews said approximately 4,000 customers lost power in West Maui.
On Saturday morning, crews began making repairs to six severely damaged poles and power lines that feed into the Lahaina area that were previously inaccessible due to the fire.
Maui Electric expects to restore service to a majority of the Lahaina customers as early as midnight Sunday. However, customers should still plan for extended overnight outages due to the extensive repairs.
Since Wednesday, Maui Electric has restored service to about 7,340 customers after impacts from then-Hurricane Lane, initially left about 11,450 customers without power on Maui and Molokai.
"We understand the need to know when power will be restored and we appreciate the public's continued patience and understanding as we make major repairs to the system," said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric, in a statement.
"We know everyone who was affected wants life and business to return to normal as soon as possible, and we want our customers to know that we won't stop working until everyone is back on."
This story will be updated.
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