Residents of Maui have been left in shock after the county’s emergency sirens failed to sound as a devastating wildfire spread across the island.
The Hawaii Emergency Services Administration (HI-EMA) said that the sirens are tested every month, but when the fire reached the city of Lahaina earlier this week, none of the sirens went off, The New York Post reported.
At least 80 people are confirmed to have died in the massive blaze, but officials warned that the death toll could rise.
“Neither Maui nor HI-EMA activated warning sirens on Maui during the wildfire incident,” the agency said in a statement. “The sirens are used to alert the public to seek additional information; they do not necessarily indicate an evacuation.”
Hawaii Governor Josh Green (D-HI) told CNN that much of the equipment was “destroyed very rapidly” by the fire, making it unclear why the sirens didn’t go off.
Residents were left completely unaware of the approaching danger.
“There was no warning. There was absolutely none. Nobody came around. We didn’t see a fire truck or anybody,” said resident Lynn Robinson, who lost her home in the blaze.
HI-EMA also sent out alerts via text, radio, and TV, but many residents didn’t receive or notice alerts and were only made aware of the fire when they saw it or heard explosions.
The fire continued to spread, and some were forced to jump into the Pacific to save themselves, and the U.S. Coast Guard used a 45-foot boat to rescue at least 14 people. Over 2,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged in the inferno, and Maui County could face rebuilding costs of up to $5.52 billion.
The Maui fire incident is now being investigated by Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez, who promised to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the decisions made by officials before, during, and after the wildfires.
“The Department of the Attorney General shares the grief felt by all in Hawaiʻi, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” Lopez said Friday. “My Department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review.”
Half a dozen fires continue to burn on Maui as of Saturday, but officials said the Lahaina fire, by far the most deadly and destructive, is now 85% contained, according to NBC News.
As the tragedy continues, the people of Maui are struggling to come to terms with the fact that the emergency sirens failed when they were needed most. With no warning, the fire devastated the county and left a catastrophic amount of property damage and deaths in its wake. It is now up to the Attorney General to get to the bottom of why the sirens didn’t go off and ensure that such a catastrophe can never happen again.
#WATCH: New video shows the moment a wildfire tore though homes in Lahaina.
— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) August 10, 2023