After the deadly wildfires erupted overnight Aug. 8 in Lāhainā, Hawaii, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Aug. 10 the state is sending help in the form of search and rescue personnel and resources to assist with recovery efforts.
The Office of Emergency Services is overseeing the plan by deploying 11 members of the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Team to look for survivors and assist recovery operations in the heavily hit areas on the west side of Maui.
Federal and state-trained firefighters from Oakland, Sacramento, and Riverside counties are included on the team.
Specialists trained in mass fatality management are also en route to assist Hawaiian authorities, according to Mr. Newsom’s press release. Task force agents from Washington state are also now assisting and President Joe Biden additionally issued a major disaster declaration Aug. 10 freeing up federal funds to assist impacted communities in Maui.
Emergency responders are sifting through rubble, as the blaze leveled the historic town, destroyed more than 250 buildings, causing at least 55 deaths, as of Aug. 11, with authorities warning the toll is expected to rise as recovery operations continue.
Additionally, a number of Red Cross volunteers, including the CEO, are reportedly on the way to Maui, according to the agency.
Hawaiian volunteers have assisted California during its own fires in the past.
A comparison of photos from prior California infernos and the recent Hawaiian fires exhibiting similar traits, with melted automobile wheels and windshields prevalent, and buildings transformed into ash.
“California stands with the people of Maui and all Hawaiians amid these horrific wildfires that have claimed lives and destroyed the historic town of Lāhainā,” Mr. Newsom said in the press release announcing the aid. “Californians know firsthand the devastating toll of catastrophic wildfires fueled by climate change, capable of wiping out entire communities and centuries of irreplaceable history and heritage.”
Mr. Newsom reached out to Hawaii Gov. Josh Green to commit his support and to collaborate on how best to respond to the devastation, according to the press release.
Mr. Green spoke of the magnitude of the tragedy and the lengthy road to recovery but remained optimistic the historic town will rebound.
“What we saw today was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii state history,” he said in a statement Aug. 10. “It’s going to take a great deal of time to recover from this. ... It will be a tremendous effort, but we will come together as a community and begin working toward rebuilding from this tragedy.”