Popular tourist areas on Maui, a Hawaiian island, are being devastated by a raging wildfire that erupted on Tuesday. The out-of-control fire initially seemed contained but flared back up.
Since its resurgence, the fire burned over 2,000 acres and continues to rage. It has killed at least 55 people.
Gusty winds and dry weather are making it hard to fight the fire. These factors also contribute to the fire’s growth.
Tourists are encouraged to leave the island, and airlines are helping with the evacuation. Hawaiian Airlines is taking people from Maui to Honolulu for just $19. The special price is good through Friday, and may be extended.
Southwest Airlines is also offering flights out of Maui. For those who intended to travel to the island, but are not there yet, Southwest is offering travel waivers. These waivers allow customers to rebook at a later time.
Travel to other Hawaiian islands is unaffected by the fire.
A variety of charities are helping to mitigate the effects of the fire on those living in the area. The Maui Strong Fund and the Maui branch of the United Way are accepting donations. The Red Cross is helping to connect affected residents with their loved ones.
One person familiar with the area blames an abundance of highly flammable vegetation, combined with the dryness and heat of August, for the blaze. This vegetation became abundant after sugar cane plantations shut down years ago.
Similar conditions are often present in other wildfire-prone locations such as California and parts of Canada. When an area is full of dry plant material, all it takes is a lightning strike or a poorly tended campfire to start a wildfire.
Wildfires are known for burning thousands of acres of land, as well as any houses that are in the way. People in affected areas must flee to preserve their lives.