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Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Nat’l Guard mobilized in Hawaii; 36 dead from wildfires

A fire burns early Thursday morning in northern San Diego County. (Cal Fire San Diego/TNS)
August 10, 2023

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that “all available Federal assets” have been ordered to help respond to the raging wildfire on the Hawaiian island of Maui as the death toll continues to rise.

In an official statement from the White House, Biden said the Hawaiian National Guard has mobilized Chinook Helicopters “to help with fire suppression and search and rescue” on the island.

The president noted that both the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Third Fleets are engaged in rescue and fire response efforts. The Army has also provided the Hawaiian island of Maui with Black Hawk Helicopters to help fight the raging fires.

“Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the wildfires in Maui, and our prayers are with those who have seen their homes, businesses, and communities destroyed,” Biden said. “We are grateful to the brave firefighters and first responders who continue to run toward danger, putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives.”

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In addition to the military’s response, Biden said the Department of Transportation is working in conjunction with commercial airlines to help evacuate tourists from the island, while the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior prepare to support the island in the aftermath of the fire once it is suppressed.  

Biden urged residents of the island to “continue to follow evacuation orders, listen to the instructions of first responders and officials, and stay alert.”

Following the White House’s announcement of military support for Maui, the county shared an update of the wildfire devastation on Facebook. As of 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the county said three active fires remained “unchanged.”

The county noted, “Lahaina fire fatalities increased to 36 people.”

The Maui Fire Department said there were “no significant changes” for the Upcountry, Lahaina and Pūlehu/Kīhei fires and that there were no new evacuations.

“Firefighters have dealing with multiple flareups. Additional firefighter personnel from Honolulu have been requested,” Maui County officials said. “Thirty US Army service members arrived tonight and are conducting search and recovery efforts on Thursday morning.”

The county listed three available shelters for residents, including Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani, Maui High School gymnasium in Kahului and War Memorial gymnasium in Wailuku. Maui County officials shared that the American Red Cross had reported 942 people in the shelters by 10 p.m. on Wednesday.