A summer of ferocious weather across much of the U.S. has now yielded the nation’s deadliest wildfire in more than a century. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, at least 93 people have been confirmed dead, more than 2,200 buildings have been leveled and many people on the island remain unaccounted for after what began as scattered brush fires quickly escalated.
The death toll could increase as rescuers travel to parts of the state that have been blocked by fires or by closed roads, and a precise figure may not be known for weeks. Dozens of people have also been injured, some critically.
No cause for the fire has been determined, but experts said one possibility was that active power lines that fell in high winds ignited the wildfire that ultimately spread to Lahaina, a coastal town of 13,000 in western Maui that was leveled. Low humidity and strong mountain winds, as well as worsening drought conditions, probably also contributed to the fire, as did invasive plant life.
Those staying near Lahaina say they have received far more help from volunteers than from federal and local agencies.