Maui wildfire disaster updates for Aug. 17: FEMA opens Disaster Recovery Center

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Maui Wildfire Disaster – Aug. 17, 2023. Background image courtesy DLNR Hawaiʻi.

Wildfire Wildfire Disaster Updates for Aug. 17 are posted: HERE.

Maui Wildfire Disaster Daily Recap
Update: 5:48 p.m., 5:08 p.m., 12:45 p.m., 8:30 a.m., 4:12 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

Recovery efforts continue on Maui where wildfires decimated the Historic Lahaina Town in West Maui, leaving a path of destruction spanning nearly 3.5 square miles. Multiple fires on the island were sparked on Aug. 8, and were fueled by strong winds as a hurricane passed well south of the islands.  

Today, three of those fires remain active with crews monitoring for flare ups and hotspots. The death toll from the Lahaina fire has risen to 111, with the identity of five victims publicly released by police.  A dust screen is being erected around the investigation perimeter. FEMA has also set up a disaster recovery center in Kahului. The wildfire is described as the nation’s deadliest in a 100 years.


  • Olinda fire: Now 85% contained with an estimated 1,081 acres burned. There are no active threats at this time (as of 9 p.m. on 8.16.23). 
  • Kula fire: Now 80% contained with 202 acres burned. There are no active threats at this time.
  • Lahaina fire: 89% contained and 2,170 acres burned. Multiple fire crews are assigned to monitor and address any flareups. There are no active threats at this time (as of 9 p.m. on 8.16.23). 

The National Guard has two military helicopters on standby for any immediate firefighting needs.

*County fire investigators have concluded that the Kula and Olinda fires have distinct origins. Going forward, data for these fires will be reported separately. Hot spots in gulches, forests and other hard to reach places, along with land divisions and fences, make establishment of complete control lines difficult in the Upcountry fires. As mapping is refined in coming days, estimated fire acreage may be adjusted. Chinook helicopters dropped water on the perimeter of the active fires as preventative measures. 


The number of confirmed fatalities is 111, the Maui Police Department reports. On Thursday, Maui police released the name of a single individual, Donna Gomes, 71, of Lahaina.

The names of three victims of the Maui Wildfire Disaster were released on Wednesday after their families were notified: Melva Benjamin, 71, of Lahaina; Virginia Dofa, 90, of Lahaina; and Alfredo Galinato, 79, of Lahaina. 


Two other individuals were identified on Tuesday as Robert Dyckman, 74, of Lahaina and Buddy Jantoc, 79, of Lahaina.

As of Wednesday morning, police reported that 35 autopsies had been completed and seven were identified, five by fingerprints and two by DNA. The names of two were released Tuesday, 8/15 after their families were notified. Sixteen DNA profiles have been obtained from human remains, and 52 samples have been collected from family members.

FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER (Due to privacy, no media allowed on premises)

To provide DNA samples to assist in identification, family members can go to the Family Assistance Center. The FBI is assisting with obtaining DNA samples from out-of-state family members.

The Family Assistance Center is moving from its current location at the Kahului Community Center to the Hyatt Regency’s Monarchy Ballroom, located at 200 Nohea Kai Drive in Kāʻanapali, effective Friday, Aug. 18, at 10 a.m. FAC services at the Kahului Community Center will end as of 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17.


The FAC’s new location will provide for a “one-stop shop” of resources and services for those who have been affected by the Maui wildfires.  Families and individuals will have the opportunity to come into the FAC where staff will assist them in assessing their needs and connecting them with services that are on site as well as other resources within the community. 

FEMA opens Disaster Recovery Center on Maui

Maui residents affected by the recent wildfires can apply for federal disaster assistance at a joint Disaster Recovery Center that opened Aug. 16 and will continue daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, 310 W. Kaʻahumanu Ave., Kahului. Speak to FEMA specialists, get help registering for disaster assistance, connect with voluntary organizations and have access to federal and state resources.


According to the National Weather Service, no impacts are expected from Tropical Storm Greg, which is passing south of the state. Tropical Storm Fernanda is forecast to weaken and is shifting farther south. The system is expected to bring breezy tradewinds today, Aug. 16, and Thursday, Aug. 17. The storm may may bring increased rain, starting Monday, Aug. 21, and Tuesday, Aug. 22. 


Most public schools across the island welcomed students back on Wednesday, Aug. 16.  The exception is for:

  • West Maui campuses which remain closed for students to allow for damage assessment. While all three campuses (Lahainaluna High, Lahaina Intermediate and Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary) sustained wind damage, the overall structure of campus buildings and classrooms are in good condition, according to department administrators. Crews are currently at the campus sites, cleaning debris and testing both air and water quality in the coming days. Kamehameha III Elementary was destroyed in the wildfires.  
  • King Kekaulike High School facilities are still being assessed and will remain closed to both students and staff until the campus can be fully evaluated.


Private pumping trucks for wastewater systems in West Maui will be allowed to dispose of wastewater at Sewer Pump Station #1 on Halawai Street next to the Lahaina Wastewater Treatment Facility. For questions, call the Department of Environmental Management, Wastewater Reclamation Division at 808-270-7417.


Donations on non-perishable food, bottled water and hygiene products are being accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. near a vacant unit in Queen Ka’ahumanu Center at the Kane Street entrance. The new site is a partnership among the county, the state via Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and Mahi Pono. Mahi Pono will provide staff for the facility and work under leadership of Salvation Army and Feed My Sheep to coordinate food and supplies distribution. The collection site at War Memorial Complex field off Kanaloa Avenue was closed Monday, Aug. 14, with donations directed to the new site.


An online, centralized hub called Maui Nui Strong, mauinuistrong.info designed to respond to the impacts of the Lahaina and Kula wildfire disaster was launched at mauinuistrong.info. The County of Maui site offers information on how to donate, volunteer, offer services and look for support. It is administered through the Office of Economic Development and will be utilized by multiple county departments, nonprofits and grassroot efforts to connect people to resources and services.


Gov. Josh Green announced the opening of the road to Lahaina during specified hours.

  • Starting Wednesday, Aug. 16, the road will be open to all motorists daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Late-night access from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is limited to West Maui residents, first responders and West Maui employees.

*The Maui Police Department advises the public that officers will cite and tow vehicles parked at the Lahaina Bypass, where there are no-parking signs.


Hawaiian Electric Co. reported on Monday, that power was restored to all but 2,000 of the 12,400 customers who lost power in West Maui. The total doesnʻt include about 2,000 homes and businesses that were destroyed in the fire. Power was restored to the Lahaina Civic Center and nearby areas. HECO has 400 employees from across the state working on power restoration and shipped 26 specialized vehicles and equipment to Maui from Oʻahu.

In Upcountry, crews continue to respond to pocket outages for an estimated 60 customers. There are more than 400 Hawaiian Electric employees and contractors from Maui, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi who are working to safely bring power back to our Maui communities. This includes construction crews and tree trimmers as well as line crews and other support teams.

All six emergency shelters now have internet connection.

Rotary on the Westside announced they have acquired two more StarLinks. The units are active now at Kahekili Beach and Honokōwai Beach Park.

Nāpili Plaza is now open 24/7 and has power restored.

GAS: With power being restored in some areas of West Maui, there are now supplies available at four stations: ʻOhana Fuels/Minit Stop on Keawe Street in Lahaina, Shell on Kapunakea Street in Lahaina, Texaco Gas Station in Honokowai and Kahana Gateway Shell are open for gasoline.


Water testing was performed Monday for Lahaina and Upper Kula areas that were impacted by wildfires. The test samples went to Oʻahu and are being analyzed by the state Department of Health. Even if the initial testing is clear, it will take time and additional tests to confirm that the water is safe to drink.

For residents in Lahaina and Upper Kula areas, maps of affected areas in Upcountry and in Lahaina were recently released on the county Department of Water Supply website, www.mauicounty.gov/126/Department-of-Water-Supply. The advisory remains in effect for certain areas until further notice and states that residents should not drink and/or boil water. Bottled water should be used for all drinking, brushing teeth, ice making and food preparation until further notice. Residents are unable to treat the water in any way to make it safe. Drinking water sites are set up in many areas of Lahaina and Kula.

Although the county has an unsafe water advisory in place, Hawaiʻi Water Service does not have one in place for its customers in Kāʻanapali or Kapalua. The company advises customers of Hawaiʻi Water Service in those particular areas, that their water is safe to use and drink.

EMERGENCY SHELTERS (Due to privacy, no media allowed)

  • Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Pukalani
  • War Memorial Gymnasium, Wailuku (Internet)
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kahului
  • Kings Cathedral Church, Kahului
  • Grace Bible Church, Kahului
  • South Maui Community Park Gymnasium, Kīhei 

Overnight Tuesday, Aug. 15, an estimated 355 individuals were housed in shelters. No one was housed at the Grace Bible Church in Kahului.


Lahaina Gateway Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for County of Maui-facilitated food, water and other needs and supplies.

Nāpili Plaza is open for food and supplies distribution from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 18, Maui Health clinicians and physicians will provide first-aid, wound care, health and wellness checks and pharmacy services, including baby formula for all community members in need. Kīhei Vet Clinic is also on-site to offer pet supply distribution and animal medical services.

Other volunteer run sites were available at the following locations at last report:

  • Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary
  • Nāpili Park
  • Pōhaku Park, nicknamed “S-Turns”
  • Honokōwai Beach Park
  • Kahana Boat Ramp
  • Hawaiian Homes


Maui Health: From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday, 8/15 to Friday, 8/18, Maui Health clinicians and physicians will provide first-aid, wound care, health and wellness checks and pharmacy services, including baby formula for all community members in need, regardless of health insurance, at Lahaina Gateway and Nāpili Plaza. For details, visit www.mauihealth.org/wildfire.

Kaiser: Since Monday,8/14, Kaiser Permanente has been providing medical services to KP members and non-members at  locations in Lahaina. Pharmacy courier services will be available at all three sites. These locations are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

  • Kaiser Permanente’s Mobile Health Vehicle at Lahaina Gateway: Providing first aid, pediatric services. OB/GYN services are offered at this site every Friday beginning Aug. 18.
  • Kaiser Permanente First Aid Station at the Hyatt Regency Lahaina, Lahaina Ballroom
  • Kaiser Permanente First Aid Station at Nāpili Market: Providing first aid services.

Minit Medical has been open since Aug. 14 at the Lahaina Gateway from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, providing medical services to all community members in need regardless of health insurance. Contact 808-667-6161 for an appointment or visit www.minitmed.com


Text, not talk, is best for locations that have connectivity. Maui County updates are repeated on radio stations at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. The Civil Air Patrol Hawaiʻi Wing broadcast by loudspeaker while flying between Lahaina and Kapalua to announce important public messages on Sunday, Aug. 13, Monday, Aug. 14, Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Wednesday, Aug. 16.


The state Department of Health is urging caution for residents and business owners who are allowed to return to their properties in the Lahaina area. Dangers include ash that may contain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals including asbestos, arsenic and lead and debris including broken glass, exposed electrical wires, nails, wood, plastics and other objects. Unstable buildings and structures may contain hazardous materials and could collapse and cause injury. For more information about recommendations for personal protective equipment including masks and associated hazards, go to https://health.hawaii.gov/news/newsroom/doh-advises-caution-for-residents-returning-to-west-maui-area/.


Daily, county shuttle service from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Central Maui shelters to go to Central Maui shopping and medical locations launched Aug. 13. Riders are required to call Roberts Hawaiʻi for same-day reservations at 808-871-4838. Mobility devices accommodated. Luggage and bags will be limited to what can be carried.

Maui Economic Opportunity is offering free rides for medical appointments for people impacted by the fires who are sheltering at the South Maui Community Park Gymnasium and Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani. The service by reservation only began on Aug. 15, and operates daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations can be made from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at 808-877-7651. 

For all other transportation needs, riders may use The Maui Bus.


The County of Maui Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing’s Lahaina Satellite Office will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Aug. 16 at Lahaina Gateway to assist West Maui residents whose Hawaiʻi driver’s licenses or Hawaiʻi State Identification cards have been lost or destroyed by wildfires. For more information, call 808-270-7363.

Family Assistance Center moving from Central Maui to Kāʻanapali
Update: 6:04 p.m., Aug. 17, 2023

The Family Assistance Center is moving from its current location at the Kahului Community Center to the Hyatt Regency’s Monarchy Ballroom, located at 200 Nohea Kai Drive in Kāʻanapali, effective Friday, Aug. 18, at 10 a.m. FAC services at the Kahului Community Center will end as of 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17.

The FAC’s new location will provide for a “one-stop shop” of resources and services for those who have been affected by the Maui wildfires.  Families and individuals will have the opportunity to come into the FAC where staff will assist them in assessing their needs and connecting them with services that are on site as well as other resources within the community. 

Monarchy Ballroom. PC: Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.

Those who have missing family members will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide information that may assist in locating their loved ones.  Immediate family members (parents, siblings, and children) will have the option to provide a DNA sample to assist in these efforts. Those who provide DNA samples are assured that the samples will only be used for the purpose of identifying those who are still reported missing.  

The following services will be available as of August 18.  More services will be added over the coming days and weeks:

  • American Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • FEMA Disaster Assistance
  • Maui County Office of Economic Development – Workforce Development 
  • Maui Economic Opportunity
  • Tzu Chi Foundation – Emergency Financial Assistance
  • Legal information from individual members of the Maui County Bar Association
  • Chaplain services 

For more information about the FAC, call 1-800-RED

Hale Mahaolu Eono releases statement on wildfire response and timeline of events
Update: 11:36 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

Background image via Hale Mahaolu website. / Maui Now foreground graphic.

An official statement was released this morning from Hale Mahaolu Eono regarding last Tuesdayʻs wildfire. The corporation also released a timeline of events, and actions taken during the incident.

Initial estimates provided by Hale Mahaolu on the status of Hale Mahaolu Eono tenants includes the following: 

  • 22 Tenants have been located (includes the resident manager)
  • 4 Tenants have not responded to phone messages
  • 4 Tenants’ family members have confirmed they are missing
  • 3 Tenants reported deceased by media
  • 2 Units were vacant at time of fire

Hale Mahaolu Mono is located at 810 Kelawea Street in Lahaina, mauka of the Honoapiʻilani Highway, along Lahainaluna Road. The full statement and timeline is posted HERE.

FEMA launches web page to dispel myths, address rumors, answer questions related to Hawaiʻi wildfires
Update: 11:04 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

FEMA recently launched a rumor control and frequently asked questions web page to keep survivors of the Hawaii wildfires aware of rumors and scams, and to help them better understand the federal disaster assistance programs and processes.

“After a disaster, rumors and myths can harm disaster survivors by causing confusion and can even prevent people from seeking assistance,” FEMA administrators said in a news release.

FEMA’s rumor page and Hawaii Wildfire web page are designed to help survivors, their families and communities access official information from trusted sources. The full story is posted HERE.

Experts care for historic Lahaina banyan tree after deadly fire
Update: Aug. 17, 2023

“This is an incredibly important tree,” said arborist Steve Nimz of the 150-year-old Lahaina banyan, “…but it’s a tree.”

Nimz, who was interviewed by DLNR said that while he’s part of a team helping to care for the historic tree, he wants the attention focused elsewhere. “We’ve got so many people who lost their lives, lost their families, lost their livelihoods… that’s where the focus should be…. There’s still life under every one of the roots… that’s where our hope is at, and the rest is up to the tree.”

*NOTE:  While the state Department of Land and Natural Resources provided the imagery for this story, the department and its staff is not engaged in any of the treatment efforts to save the historic Lahaina Banyan tree. The visuals are provided to bring awareness to these efforts, as many in the community had asked if the tree had survived.

T-Mobile responds to Maui Wildfires: delivers hundreds of devices, charging supplies to displaced residents
Update: 5:15 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

  • Maui Wildfire Disaster response. PC: T Mobile on Maui
  • Maui Wildfire Disaster response. PC: T Mobile on Maui
  • Maui Wildfire Disaster response. PC: T Mobile on Maui
  • Maui Wildfire Disaster response. PC: T Mobile on Maui
  • Maui Wildfire Disaster response. PC: T Mobile on Maui

All T-Mobile sites impacted by the fire have restored connection except for one that services Lahaina and was severely damaged. However, T-Mobile has the town of Lahaina now covered by a portable COW (cell on wheels) operating at the Lahaina Gateway Center.

The company’s site at Nāpili-Honokōwai is fully restored and providing its usual service including high-speed data. T-Mobile was anticipated a second fully restored site by the end of day Wednesday.

The business is giving first responders activated phones and Wireless Priority Service.

T-Mobile has also set up free high-speed Wi-Fi using Starlink modems in three locations with more to come (Kaiser Permanente’s temporary clinic, Kapalua Airport and American Red Cross staff and volunteer housing). 

The company has delivered hundreds of devices, charging supplies and other supplies to three shelters and assistance centers, including visits to:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 125 W Kamehameha Ave, Kahului, HI 96732
  • Hannibal Tavaras Community Center, 91 Pukalani Street, Makawao, HI 96788
  • War Memorial Complex, 700 Halia Nakoa Street, Wailuku, HI 96793

Wastewater disposal for private pumping trucks available on west side       
Update: 4:31 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

Permitted Wastewater Hauler Discharge Manhole – West Maui (PC: County of Maui)

The Department of Environmental Management is announcing that wastewater disposal for private pumping trucks is available on the west side effective immediately. 

Wastewater may be disposed of at Sewer Pump Station No. 1 on Halawai Drive, next to the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility on Honoapiʻilani Highway. 

For questions and more information, please contact the Dept. of Environmental Management, Wastewater Reclamation Division at 808-270-7417 at [email protected].

FEMA official addresses business leaders in Hawaiʻi, urges disaster survivors on Maui to register for federal assistance
Update: 4:03 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

Erik A. Hooks (PC courtesy) Background image of Lahaina (PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi)

FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks addressed business leaders in Hawaiʻi during a call on Wednesday, providing an update on the agency’s efforts to help survivors jumpstart their recovery from the disastrous wildfires in Maui. 

To date, FEMA has provided more than $2.3 million in assistance to more than 1,330 households, including more than $800,000 in initial rental assistance, Hooks said. FEMA wants all survivors to register as soon as possible so that they receive the help they need.

“We want to reach survivors as quickly as we can to get them to apply for assistance,” Hooks said during the call, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. 

Hooks spoke to approximately 275 people on the call, that also included members of the Hawaiʻi Chamber of Commerce, Maui Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

“The business community is already active in many ways in supporting the businesses and survivors affected by these wildfires,” Hooks said. “Thank you for all you are doing. Our ask of you is to continue to be involved and work with federal and state partners as part of the whole-of-community effort to provide coordinated support to survivors and to help us share information with your employees and customers who are affected.”

FEMA has more than 600 personnel on the ground on Maui who are reaching survivors where they are, and residents now have the option to apply for federal disaster assistance at a joint Disaster Recovery Center that opened on Wednesday. It is located at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, 310 W. Ka’ahumanu Ave., Kahului, Hawaiʻi.

Survivors who have not yet registered can do so 24 hours a day by calling 800-621-3362, visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by using the FEMA App. If you use a relay service, such as video relay (VRS), captioned telephone or other service, give FEMA the number for that service.

Anyone who wishes to donate to help wildfire survivors should donate responsibly. Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through businesses local to the disaster, which supports economic recovery.

For more information on the Hawaii wildfires, visit FEMA.gov.

County of Maui to air public updates on wildfire disaster at noon daily
Update: 4:59 a.m., Aug. 17, 2023

With power being restored to more areas of West Maui, County of Maui updates on the wildfire disaster will be aired on Maui radio stations once a day at noon. It was previously aired at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

The updates supplement information posted on the countyʻs website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Maui radio stations include:

  • Pacific Media Group on KPOA FM 92.9 (west side)/ FM 93.5; KJKS FM 99.3 (west side)/ FM 99.9 FM; KJMD FM 107.1 (west side) / FM 98.3; KHLI FM 101.7 (west side) / FM 92.5; KMVI AM 900 / FM 102.5; and KNUI AM 550 / FM 106.1
  • KAOI Radio Group on 1110 AM / 96.7 FM
  • KPMW FM 105.5
  • Akakuʻs KAKU 88.5
  • Manaʻo Radio 91.7 FM

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