From the Field

Maui wildfires: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Cars, buildings, and homes are completely charred in contrast to a blue sky with several clouds.

The deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century devastated the Hawaiian island of Maui in August 2023, claiming 100 lives and leveling the historic town of Lahaina, according to Maui County officials.

Maui wildfires: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Fast facts: Maui wildfires

  • The 2023 Maui fire ranks among the top 10 deadliest U.S. wildfires on record since 1871, and it is the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii’s history, surpassing the deadly tsunami in 1960.
  • Authorities identified the last of the 100 confirmed victims on January 26, 2024.
  • Hawaii Governor Josh Green estimates damages at nearly $6 billion.
  • Hurricane Dora, a Category 4 storm, generated high winds on the islands and fueled at least three fires on Maui on August 8.
  • Lahaina, the former royal capital of Hawaii and prominent tourist spot, “is gone,” said Mark Gudmunson, senior pastor of Pukalani Community Church of the Nazarene in Pukalani, Hawaii.
  • As of mid-January 2024, over 5,400 people remain displaced in hotels, with efforts underway for long-term accommodations, according to Hawaii’s governor.


What caused the wildfires in Maui?

An investigation continues to determine the exact cause of the wildfires. According to Maui County Fire Chief Brad Ventura, high winds fueled multiple fires that ignited shortly after midnight on August 8, 2023. Ventura reported wind gusts reaching 60 mph during the Lahaina fire. A dry summer, low humidity, and strong winds from passing Hurricane Dora exacerbated the fires, rapidly spreading through the island’s parched growth and consuming homes and buildings.

On August 8, the National Weather Service in Honolulu issued a red flag alert for “high fire danger with rapid spread,” advising residents to secure their property and anticipate power outages and difficult travel. An ongoing investigation aims to determine the exact cause of the wildfires.


What was destroyed by the wildfires in Maui?

The blaze devoured the major tourist spot of Lahaina on the island’s western shore. It destroyed hundreds of area homes and businesses. In addition, fires have also affected the town of Kihei on Maui’s southwest coast and the inland Upcountry area.

“The city of Lahaina is gone; the city of Kihei is damaged greatly. Pulehu has lost so many houses,” said Pastor Gudmunson. “All of the destruction is all around our little church and our little community.”


How is World Vision responding to the Maui wildfires?

World Vision swiftly responded to the Maui wildfires, supporting affected families through local partnerships:

  • Pukalani Community Church of the Nazarene: A central hub for resources, we supported the church through a grant to help ensure a continuous supply of urgently needed emergency items which helped care for approximately 500 displaced residents. We also donated a box truck for ongoing relief efforts.
  • Maui Rescue Mission: We provided support for mobile relief services — including access to showers, Wi-Fi, laundry, and health and vision services — with funds also contributing to a larger mobile trailer, enabling the expansion of their relief efforts.
  • Hawaii Conference of Seventh-day Adventists: Through a grant, we provided assistance to construct 500 mobile sheds for survivors, addressing needs for personal storage while the community rebuilds.
  • Emergency relief boxes: We collaborated with a food distributor in Honolulu, Hawaii, and delivered 1,500 Crisis Relief Boxes to the church to be distributed to an estimated 7,500 people. Each box contained fresh fruits and vegetables that didn’t need to be refrigerated or cooked.
  • Delivering crucial supplies: We shipped three containers from the mainland to Maui to serve an estimated 1,800 people. Each 40-foot container included a range of supplies such as relief beds designed for use during emergencies, dried food, diapers, rain boots, baby formula, hygiene kits, backpacks, bikes, generators, and more.

We remain committed to Maui’s long-term recovery, with plans to scale our efforts over the next year.


How can I help children and families impacted by the Maui wildfires?

  • Pray: Join us in praying for the people of Maui and across the Hawaiian Islands who continue to be impacted by the aftermath of these catastrophic fires — and people across the U.S. who are affected by disasters.
  • Give: Your gift will help provide essential care to children and families impacted by the wildfires in Hawaii and other disasters across the U.S.


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