The death toll from the devastating wildfires in Maui has reached 93, according to county officials. This makes it the deadliest American wildfire in over a century and the fifth-deadliest on record. However, the final count is expected to continue rising as search and rescue operations continue.
The Maui fires are now the deadliest in the United States since the Cloquet & Moose Lake Fires in 1918, which killed 453 people in northeastern Minnesota. These fires were attributed to a spark from a passing train during the region's driest season in decades.
There have been three other wildfires in U.S. history with higher death counts, all occurring in the late 1800s. The Peshtigo Fire in 1871 claimed a record 1,152 lives in Wisconsin, the Thumb Fire in 1881 killed 282 people in Michigan, and the Great Hinckley Fire in 1894 destroyed three towns in Minnesota, resulting in 418 deaths.
The deadliest fire prior to the Maui blaze occurred in 1910, burning three million acres of timberland in Idaho and Montana and claiming the lives of 87 people, mostly firefighters.
The Camp Fire in California in 2018 killed 85 people, damaged or destroyed over 19,000 buildings, and burned 153,336 acres. It was caused by a faulty electric transmission line, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of 84 of the victims.
The Maui fires started in West Maui on Tuesday and quickly spread to Lahaina due to strong winds from Hurricane Dora. These winds pushed the fires into drought-affected areas and hindered firefighting efforts. Emergency management officials did not have time to issue evacuation orders due to the rapid spread of the fire.
The cost to rebuild the affected areas of Lahaina and Kula is estimated to be nearly $6 billion. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and his fiancee Lauren Sánchez have pledged $100 million to help with the recovery efforts.
In conclusion, the Maui wildfires have resulted in a tragic loss of life and significant damage. The cause of the fires is still under investigation, and efforts are underway to support those affected and rebuild the affected areas.