HomeScience & TechThe long-term impact on the environment due to Hawaii’s fires on Maui...

The long-term impact on the environment due to Hawaii’s fires on Maui island in the recent case death toll hits 80 people

The death toll from wildfires in Hawaii’s Maui rose to 80 as search teams combed the smoldering ruins of the town of Lahaina and officials tried to figure out how the inferno spread so quickly through the historic resort area with little warning.

Hawaii’s attorney general said Friday she is launching an investigation into how authorities responded to devastating wildfires that have left at least 80 dead and 1,418 people in emergency evacuation shelters, according to the latest figures.

“The Department of the Attorney General will conduct a comprehensive review of the critical decision-making and ongoing policies that led to, during and after the wildfires on Maui and Hawaii this week,” Attorney General Anne Lopez’s office said. declaration.

The fires became the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii’s history, surpassing a tsunami that killed 61 people on Hawaii Island in 1960, a year after Hawaii joined the United States.

Fueled by dry conditions, high temperatures and high winds from a passing hurricane, at least three wildfires have broken out on Maui this week, tearing through the parched vegetation covering the island.

Maui County officials said in an online statement that firefighters continued to battle the blaze, which was not yet fully extinguished. Lahaina residents were able to return home for the first time to assess the damage.

Officials warned that search teams with cadaver dogs could still find more dead from the fire, which has burned 1,000 buildings and left thousands homeless, and is likely to take many years and billions of dollars to rebuild.

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The disaster began just after midnight Tuesday when a fire was reported in the town of Kula, about 56 km (35 miles) from Lahaina. About five hours later that morning, power was knocked out in Lahaina, according to residents.

However, the situation worsened in the afternoon. At approximately 3:30 p.m. local time (01:30 GMT Wednesday), a fire broke out suddenly in Lahaina, according to district updates. Some residents began to evacuate, while people, including hotel guests, on the west side of the city were told to shelter in place.

In the hours that followed, the county posted a series of evacuation orders on Facebook as the fire spread through the city.

Some witnesses said they had been notified in advance and described their horror as flames engulfed Lahaina within minutes. Several people were forced to jump into the Pacific Ocean to save themselves.

Wildfires have killed six people on the Hawaiian island of Maui as strong winds fanned the flames

Lahaina’s evacuation was complicated by its coastal location next to hills, meaning there were only two ways out at best, said Andrew Rumbach, a climate and community specialist at the Urban Institute in Washington.

“This is a nightmare scenario,” said Rumbach, a former professor of urban planning at the University of Hawaii.

“A fast moving fire in a densely populated area with difficult communications and few good options in terms of evacuation.”

Landscape and soil

Invasive and fire-prone grass species have moved in over time and can burn into native forests in a fire, meaning the forests are replaced by more grass.

The land is burned and washed away, leading to massive post-fire erosion that suffocates corals, affects fisheries and reduces ocean water quality.

Dust can fly and harm human health

“When you lose land, it’s really hard to recover and replant. And then the only thing that would really manage life there in many cases is more of those invasive species,” Elizabeth Pickett, co-executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, told the AP.


Contaminants from land flow into the ocean and affect coral reefs and the marine ecosystem.

The burning of homes, commercial buildings, cars and trucks exacerbates any release by concentrating synthetic materials in the stream.

Jamison Gove, a Honolulu-based oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the impact was more severe in environments where there is a short distance between the affected area and the sea.

He noted that Lahaina’s coastal location means “minimum distance” for materials to reach the ocean.

This must have had an impact on the coral reef. “Coral reefs provide coastal protection, they provide fisheries, they support cultural practices in Hawaii,” Gove said. “And the loss of reefs has such detrimental consequences for the ecosystem.”

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