Alan Dicker saw one of his properties go up in flames as wildfires engulfed Maui’s economic center.
As devastating fires continue to burn on Maui, Hawaii’s third most populous island, “the front street burst into flames,” Dicker told CNN Wednesday.
Countless residents and tourists are stranded or trapped by the devastating inferno, with some throwing themselves into the sea to escape the flames.
Even emergency workers may not be able to help, as the blaze — part of Hurricane Dora that blew 800 miles away — has cut off 911 services and communications in many parts of the island.
“911 is down. Cell service is disabled. Phone service is down,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke told CNN Wednesday morning.
“Our hospital system in Maui is overloaded with burn patients, inhalation patients,” he said. “The reality is that we have to fly out of Maui to provide burn support to people because the Maui hospital can’t do comprehensive burn care.”
The disaster knocked out power to about 14,000 homes and businesses on Maui. PowerOutage.us.
It is unclear how many people may have been injured or killed in the inferno.
“The heroic efforts of first responders prevented many fatalities, but some loss of life is expected,” Gov. Josh Green said in a statement Wednesday.
Hawaii isn’t the only U.S. state to be plagued by devastating wildfires — a trend for some Experts predict For this season. Parts of Texas remain under critical fire danger Wednesday, a day after brush fires An apartment building was submerged In the Austin area.
But the crisis unfolding on Maui is unusual, said Hawaii’s lieutenant governor.
“It’s unprecedented that there are wildfires in so many areas, presumably as a result of hurricanes,” Luke said.
Dikar, who has lived in the area for 24 years, said there was little time to flee.
“I caught some people I saw on the street, they didn’t have a good plan. I told them, ‘Get your stuff, get in my truck,'” he said.
Zeke Kalua/Province of Maui
Flames shoot into the sky Tuesday night at the intersection of Hokiokio Place and Lahaina Bypass in Maui, Hawaii.
“And there’s only one road leading out of Lahaina, so obviously it’s backed up,” Dicker said. “I dropped everyone off and went to another part of Maui that was far away. Once I got there, the entire area had to be evacuated due to a completely different fire. … When I arrived, the whole area was evacuated.
Ticker eventually fled to a remote part of Maui. “I figured that was enough, at least I’m safe here from a fire escape because it’s a rainforest,” he said.
Clint Hansen took drone video Tuesday night that showed the wildfire spreading north of Kihei.
Clint Hansen of Maui Real Estate Radio
Clint Hansen filmed this footage of the devastating fires on the island of Maui.
“Lahaina is devastated,” Hansen told CNN. “People who jumped into the sea to escape the flames were rescued by the Coast Guard. All boat owners are requested to rescue people. It’s apocalyptic.
A dozen people were rescued near Lahaina after “entering the ocean due to smoke and fire conditions,” Coast Guard and county officials said. “The individuals were evacuated to safer areas by the Coast Guard.” Maui County officials said.
And it’s unclear where the disaster will go next.
Maui fire officials warned that erratic winds, challenging terrain, steep slopes and low humidity, as well as fire direction and location, make it difficult to predict the wildfire’s path and speed. Maui County officials.
“A fire can be a mile or more from your home, but it can be at your home in a minute or two,” said Maui County Fire Assistant CEO Jeff Giesea. “Burning of airborne materials can spread fires far away from the main fire area.”
Check out this interactive content on CNN.com
State officials are working with hotels and a local airline to try to evacuate tourists to another island, Luke said. But disconnected communications hamper efforts to reach everyone.
“Lodgings and visitors and business districts have lost connectivity due to cell towers and landlines that only work in very localized areas. As a result, 911 service is currently down,” said Mahina Martin, chief communications officer for the Maui Emergency Management Agency.
Maui County officials have been unable to contact many people on the west side — including those in the Lahaina area, Luke said.
The lieutenant governor said satellite phones are the only reliable way to communicate with some areas, including hotels.
“What we’re trying to do is send individuals to areas that have satellite phone service. We’ve only been in contact with one hotel because at one hotel, the people in charge of that hotel have satellite phones,” Luke said Wednesday morning.
“This is how you can make a connection. It’s hindering communication … and we’re very concerned about that.
Check out this interactive content on CNN.com
Emergency management officials said mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for parts of Maui.
“Emergency shelters are now open in many areas of West Maui and South Maui,” Martin said. “But as a precaution, due to the ongoing fire, we have shifted the emergency shelters outside the district.”
The Hawaii Department of Transportation posted on social media that Kahului Airport was sheltering about 1,800 passengers “from canceled flights and flight arrivals.”
Hawaiian Airlines told CNN that the government is discouraging non-essential travel to Maui due to the fires.
AP by Matthew Thayer/The Maui News
Members of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources wildland fire crews battle a fire in Kula, Hawaii, on Tuesday.
Members of the Hawaii National Guard are helping with the Maui disaster — and in more ways than one.
“Hawaii National Guardsmen have been activated and are currently assisting the Maui Police Department at traffic control points,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaii’s deputy lieutenant general. Published on Facebook.
The overnight deployment was accelerated by dynamic fire conditions, Hara wrote, and National Guard personnel will arrive in Maui and Hawaii counties late Wednesday.
Dora, as of Wednesday morning, was a powerful Category 4 hurricane 795 miles southwest of Honolulu with sustained winds of 130 mph. National Hurricane Center said. No coastal watch or warning is in effect.
Courtesy Sam Postuma
Smoke rises from a wildfire Tuesday in Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Traveling south of the Dora Islands, there is a strong high pressure system to the north. The National Weather Service said the area of high pressure combined with Dora would “produce very strong and damaging winds.”
Winds are expected to reach 60 mph overnight in Hawaii, then begin to decrease throughout the day Wednesday.
“These strong winds combined with low humidity will create dangerous fire weather conditions that will last through Wednesday afternoon,” the weather service said.
By Wednesday afternoon, the high pressure area and Dora will move west, allowing winds to decrease.
Two brush fires were burning on the Big Island Tuesday, officials said Press release, one in North Kohala District and the other in South Kohala District. Some residents were under mandatory evacuation orders as power outages affected communications, the release said.
Luke, acting governor since Green was out of state, issued an emergency declaration on Tuesday regarding the fires.
Smoke billows Tuesday from a fire in Lahaina, Maui County.
“We are closely monitoring wildfires fueled by Hurricane Dora’s strong winds,” Luke said in a statement. Report. “The safety of our residents is paramount, and this emergency declaration will enable the Hawaii National Guard to support emergency responders in affected communities.”
Green has been thoroughly briefed on Dora and its implications, according to the news release.
“Lt. Governor Luke has my full support,” Green said. “My thoughts are with the residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Dora.”