At least six people have died as a result of the wildfires that are ravaging parts of Maui, the island’s mayor, Richard Bissen Jr., said at a Wednesday news conference.

He did not offer further details about the deaths and said authorities are still conducting search and rescue operations. So far, more than a dozen people had to be rescued from the ocean, among them two young children, Maui County officials said.

Several people are also unaccounted for, Bissen added.

“As a result of three fires that have occurred that are continuing here on our island we have had 13 evacuations from different neighborhoods and towns, we’ve had 16 road closures, we’ve opened five shelters,” Bissen said, noting more than 2,000 people were staying at shelters.

The fires on Maui started spreading widely Tuesday – fueled in part by violent winds from Hurricane Dora, churning more than 800 miles away – decimating homes and businesses, launching urgent rescue missions, knocking out communication services and forcing residents into the ocean to avoid being burned.

“Local people have lost everything,” said James Kunane Tokioka, the state’s business, economic development and tourism director, at the news conference. “They’ve lost their house, they’ve lost their animals and it’s devastating.”

Scores of structures on Maui have been burned to the ground, the mayor said. Most of them were in the historic town of Lahaina, a touristic and economic hub on the west side of the island.

It’s where Claire Kent’s home was too.

“It happened so fast,” she told CNN. “I heard the first explosions of the gas stations exploding and then I saw the black smoke a couple streets away and within half an hour we were out the door.”…Source – Read More!

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