Maui wildfire disaster updates for Aug. 18: Despite rumors, fires are not spreading forward

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This story was updated at 10:46 p.m. Aug. 18.

Maui Wildfire Disaster updates for Aug. 18: HERE.

Recovery efforts continue on Maui where wildfires decimated the Historic Lahaina Town in West Maui, leaving a path of destruction spanning an estimated 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 114, with the identity of six victims publicly released by police since the investigation began. An estimated 58% of the burn area has been searched. The wildfire is described as the nation’s deadliest in 100 years.

FEMA has also set up a disaster recovery center in Kahului. The Family Assistance Center for those looking for displaced loved ones has moved from Kahului to Kāʻanapali. School officials announced a return date for students at King Kekaulike High School of Aug. 23.



  • Lahaina fire: 90% contained, 2,168 acres burned. MFD and US Army Reserve were onsite.
  • Olinda fire: 85% contained, 1,081 acres burned. State DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife is monitoring. A drone with infrared capabilities was deployed overnight to look for hot spots at the Upcountry fires.
  • Kula fire: As of 9:15 p.m. Friday, was 85% contained, 202 acres burned. Three Maui Fire Department and two DOFAW crews were onsite at last report.

County fire investigators have concluded that the Kula and Olinda fires have distinct origins. Data for these fires is now reported separately.


The number of confirmed fatalities is 114 souls as of Friday evening. Maui police have identified six individuals publicly following notification of next of kin. Victims of the Maui Wildfire Disaster include: Donna Gomes, 71, of Lahaina; Melva Benjamin, 71, of Lahaina; Virginia Dofa, 90, of Lahaina; Alfredo Galinato, 79, of Lahaina; Robert Dyckman, 74, of Lahaina; and Buddy Jantoc, 79, of Lahaina.


Maui police say 58% of the area has been searched as of Thursday evening.


The advisory was expanded Friday to include the area from Kaniau Road to Leiali Parkway.

The advisory remains in effect for certain areas of Lahaina (see map) and Upper Kula (see maps) until further notice and states that residents should not drink and/or boil water. Water sampling will continue today and Sunday. Testing will continue for some time to ensure drinking water is safe.

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.


More information on this topic is available HERE.


Hawaiian Electric is continuing to rebuild sections of the electric grid to safely restore service in parts of West Maui and Upcountry, focusing on critical circuits that serve businesses which provide essential services for local communities.

More than 80% of the customers who lost electricity have their power back on. More than 90% of all customers on Maui have electricity.

Approximately 1,800 customers in Olowalu, Lahaina and some surrounding areas remain without power.

Hawaiian Electric has begun contacting those whose electricity may be restored beyond this week. Crews continue working to restore pocket outages in Upcountry.


The County of Maui Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing’s Lahaina Satellite Office will be closed for the holiday weekend starting today. It will reopen Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lahaina Gateway Center, 325 Keawe St., 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 (Due to privacy, no media allowed on premises)

The Family Assistance Center, for those seeking information on loved ones and for those who are unaccounted for, moved from Kahului Community Center to the Hyatt Regency’s Monarch Ballroom, 200 Nohea Kai Drive in Kāʻanapali. Starting today, it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Expanded resources will be offered. Staff will work with families and individuals to gather information and administer DNA swabs. For FAC details, call 1-800-RED-CROSS. If you live on a neighbor island or the mainland, are the immediate family member (parent, sibling, or child) of a person missing as the result of the Maui wildfires, and you wish to provide a DNA sample to assist, call the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Honolulu Division at 808-566-4300.


Lahaina Gateway Center, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, will close Sunday, Aug. 20 for a staff break. Nāpili Plaza is open around the clock for food, water and other needs.


A West Maui community meeting tentatively slated Saturday has been postponed due to health and safety concerns over air quality.


  • King Kekaulike: Staff returns on Monday, Aug. 21; Students return on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
  • Princess Nahi‘ena‘ena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High remain closed to students and staff. Phased reopening dates for these schools will be determined once the campuses are confirmed as safe by county, state and federal authorities. 
  • For Kamehameha III Elementary, which was destroyed in the fire, the Department is still exploring options for students, including welcoming students to Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary as well as the potential for a temporary satellite site in West Maui.

Approximately 400 displaced West Maui students have enrolled in other public schools. More than 200 students have signed up for distance learning. More information on this update HERE.


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 can be found HERE.


Late-night access on the road to Lahaina is limited to West Maui residents, first responders and West Maui employees from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. All motorists may enter from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The Maui Police Department will cite and tow vehicles parked at the Lahaina Bypass, where there are no-parking signs.


According to the National Weather Service forecast office in Honolulu, rain associated with the remnants of post-tropical cyclone Fernanda is forecast to approach the state starting late Sunday and spread westward Monday and Tuesday.

The highest rainfall amounts are forecast to occur Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning along windward and mountain slopes of Maui.


Donations of 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. No clothes at this time, please. The new site is a partnership among the county, the state via Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and Mahi Pono. Mahi Pono is staffing the facility, working under the leadership of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters to coordinate food and supplies distribution.


An online, centralized hub to respond to the impacts of the Maui Wildfire Disaster was launched at The County of Maui Maui Nui Strong site offers information on how to donate, volunteer, offer services and look for support. It is administered through the county Office of Economic Development and will be utilized to connect people to resources and services.


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 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.

Daily county shuttle service is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Central Maui shelters to go to Central Maui shopping and medical locations. 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. For all other transportation needs, riders may use The Maui Bus.

EMERGENCY SHELTERS (Due to privacy, no media allowed inside)

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

The number of survivors at the six shelters decreased significantly during recent days as the American Red Cross is working to rapidly place survivors in hotel rooms. If a shelter closes in coming days, it’s because all survivors have moved into one of the hotels providing wraparound services.

Open shelters are the best place for people to inquire about hotel emergency lodging. To find a shelter near you call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or download the free Red Cross Emergency app. Text “GETEMERGENCY” to 90999.


Maui Health is offering services today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lahaina Gateway and Nāpili Plaza. 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. For details, visit *For Sunday Aug. 20, plans are to be on-site at both locations. The only reason this might change is if the weather (wind and heavy rain) hampers operations, or if there is a severe need somewhere else (per Maui District Health Office request).

We are working today to have a plan for next week and should have info by EOD today. 

Kaiser Permanente is providing medical services to KP members and non-members at three 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 and pediatric services. OB/GYN services will be offered every Friday.
  • Kaiser Permanente First Aid Station at the Hyatt Regency Lahaina, Lahaina Ballroom
  • Kaiser Permanente First Aid Station at Nāpili Market: Providing first aid and pediatric services.

NOTE: Kaiser Permanente’s 24/7 First Aid Station located at the War Memorial Gym will permanently close at 8 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. 

For prescription refills, members can visit or call 808-643-7979. Pharmacy locations at Maui Lani or Wailuku medical offices. 

  1. Maui Lani Office pharmacy: M-F, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  2. Wailuku Office pharmacy: M-F, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. (Closed from 12-1 p.m.) 
  3. Kīhei Medical Pharmacy: M-F, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. (Closed from 12-1 p.m.)   

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


Text, not talk, is best for locations that have connectivity. Maui County updates will now be aired daily at noon on local radio stations. The final Civil Air Patrol Hawaiʻi Wing broadcast via loudspeaker was 8/16.


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

President Biden invited to visit Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in fire-ravaged Lahaina
Update: 2:23 p.m., Aug. 18, 2023

  • Maria Lanakila Church survives amidst the ashes of Lahaina Town. PC: courtesy.
  • Maria Lanakila Church survives amidst the ashes of Lahaina Town. PC: courtesy Maria Lanakila Catholic Church
  • Maria Lanakila Church survives amidst the ashes of Lahaina Town. PC: courtesy Maria Lanakila Catholic Church
  • Maria Lanakila Church survives amidst the ashes of Lahaina Town. PC: courtesy Maria Lanakila Catholic Church
  • Maria Lanakila Church survives amidst the ashes of Lahaina Town. PC: courtesy Maria Lanakila Catholic Church

With President Joe Biden scheduled to travel to Lahaina on Monday to meet with fire survivors and first responders, the president has been asked to consider visiting Maria Lanakila Catholic Church. The historic church established in 1846 survived the devastation of a wildfire that swept through historic Lahaina town Aug. 8-9. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed.

Photos of the interior of the Maria Lanakila Church show that it is apparently untouched by the fire. The altar, pews, church columns, even flower arrangements are undisturbed at the church, whose name translates to “Lady of Victory.”

“Maria Lanakila Catholic Church stands strong as a miraculous symbol of the strength and resilience of the people of Lahaina. With devastation all around, the church and its interior remain virtually untouched by the Lahaina town firestorm,” said the Rev. Monsignor Terrence A.M. Watanabe, Pastor & Vicar Forane of the Maui/Lanai Vicariate. The full story is posted HERE.

Maui police warn there is “zero tolerance” for trespass into Lahaina Town Disaster Area
Update: 9:48 a.m., Aug. 18, 2023

The search continues in a closed area of Lahaina Town where a deadly fire claimed the lives of more than 100 people. The public is warned to stay out. PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi

The State and Maui County Joint Information Centers have issued a reminder to the public that access to the closed area of Lahaina applies to all unauthorized personnel.

According to Maui police, several media members have been contacted and warned by law enforcement after going into the affected area.

“Going forward, and until further notice, there will be zero tolerance for anyone who trespasses, including residents of the affected area, the news media, and the general public, which could result in a citation or arrest,” police said in a news release. “The area is not safe, and it is disrespectful for anyone to wander around without authorization.”

The Maui Police Department asks for patience at this time. Once active search and recovery efforts are completed, officials say they will attempt to provide access.  In the meantime, joint information points have vowed to continue to distribute videos and photographs as often as possible.

Biden-Harris Administration sends nearly 1,000 federal responders to Hawaiʻi
Update: 7:58 a.m., Aug. 18, 2023

Hawaiʻi Wildfires Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSAT) at the Maui DRC. PC: Federal Emergency Management Agency. (August 2023)

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that nearly 1,000 federal responders are on the ground in Hawaiʻi to help the state recover from the devastating wildfires on Maui . In the days since President Biden declared a major disaster declaration for the state of Hawaiʻi, FEMA has approved more than $5.6 million in assistance to nearly 2,000 households including more than $2.3 million in initial rental assistance.

Thanks to the partnership between the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing program administered by the American Red Cross and funded by FEMA, the number of survivors in congregate shelters fell by 50% yesterday.

The Red Cross has distributed 30,000 meals and snacks to survivors and responded to more than 2,100 requests to help families locate missing loved ones. Additionally, the Salvation Army served roughly 12,000 meals a day to survivors since last week and continues this feeding mission and is also providing emotional and spiritual support to survivors in the west part of Maui.

The full story is posted HERE.

Lahaina Main Post Office to partially reopen on Saturday, Aug. 19
Update: 7:30 a.m., Aug. 18, 2023

Lahaina Post Office. PC: Bob McIntyre for Maui Now

The Lahaina Main Post Office, located at 1760 Honoapi’ilani Highway, will reopen for business on Saturday, Aug. 19, but without retail services.

Beginning Saturday, carriers from the Lahaina Main Post Office will resume mail delivery to addresses that are accessible and at which homes and mail receptacles are still standing.

Mail delivery to customers with PO Boxes at that office will also resume that day.

Also beginning Saturday, mail can be picked up from the dutch door in the lobby of the Lahaina Main Post Office by:

  • Customers with street delivery who reside in currently inaccessible areas
  • Customers whose homes or mail receptacles are no longer standing
  • PO Box customers of the Lahaina Downtown Post Office

This service from the dutch door will operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The temporary mail pickup operation for Lahaina customers at the Wailuku Post Office, which had been in operation since the end of last week, will close at the end of day on Friday.

Retail services will resume at the Lahaina Main Post Office as soon as technical issues are resolved.

Customers picking up their mail over the counter are reminded that a photo ID is necessary for mail pick-up.

Displaced customers who would like to redirect their mail to new addresses are encouraged to submit their USPS Change of Address requests as soon as possible. COA requests can be submitted online or at a local post office.

Lahaina customers can call the USPS Maui wildfire impact information line at 808-423-6000 to hear a recording providing the latest service updates.

Haleakalā’s Summit and Kīpahulu Districts to remain closed through Monday night, Aug. 21 
Update: 6:25 a.m., Aug. 18, 2023

Kīpahulu District of Haleakalā National Park. PC: NPS

Haleakalā National Park’s Summit and Kīpahulu Districts remain closed to the public through at least the evening of Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. Visitors should not plan to drive to or visit the park until it has been officially reopened.

Camping reservations for Hosmer Grove, backcountry tent camping and cabins, and Kīpahulu campground through Aug. 22, 2023, are canceled. Sunrise reservations through Aug. 21, 2023, are canceled.  

The continued park closure is in place to keep visitors safe and reduce demand on Maui’s over-extended emergency services. 

Any changes in the park’s status will be posted at

MEO Head Start on Maui beginning new year in wake of wildfires
Update: 6:17 a.m., Aug. 18, 2023

Head Start at Luana Gardens. FILE photo courtesy MEO

Maui Economic Opportunity’s seven Head Start preschool sites on Maui opened Thursday, Aug. 17, for parent/child orientations about a week later than scheduled due to the tragic wildfires.

The Lahaina center at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary School is temporarily closed. MEO Head Start is working with families to determine how to best meet their immediate needs for shelter and safety.  

As part of the one-hour orientations, which were originally scheduled for Friday, Aug. 11, parents were given the pamphlet, “There Was A Fire: A Story for Young Children on Maui,” to read to help their children process and deal with wildfires.

Liz Hartline, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Honolulu Community College, designed the pamphlet and tailored it for the Maui fires for children 3 to 8 years old.

“It is normal to feel sad, scared, and worried,” the pamphlet says, while describing the events in Lahaina. “These feelings may feel heavy in your body, or like you are distracted all the time. Kids have those feelings, and so do grown-ups.

“When you have big feelings, you can tell a grownup about them. Feelings are safe to have, even though they can be uncomfortable. Talking to grown-ups can help you feel better.”

The first day of preschool is set for Monday, Aug. 21, at Head Start sites at Haʻikū Elementary School, Kīhei Elementary School, Eddie Tam complex in Makawao, UH-Maui College, Wailuku Elementary School and Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center.

The MEO Head Start center in Kaunakakai held its parent orientation on Friday, Aug. 11, and welcomed preschoolers for their first day on Monday, Aug. 14.

Head Start supports low income children and families on Maui and Moloka‘i, offering preschool at no cost to qualifying families. The program is more than a traditional preschool, delivering services to 3 and 4 year olds and their families in health and family well-being, while engaging parents as partners every step of the way.


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