Wildfire recovery includes underwater search for human remains off Lahaina Harbor and breakwall
Underwater search efforts for human remains that began last Saturday, continued today in near-shore waters near the Lahaina Small Boat Harbor and along the Front Street breakwater.
A team of 40 from the Maui Fire Department and Ocean Safety utilized personal watercraft to conduct grid searches by firefighters using snorkel gear, instead of the dry suits and fully encapsulated face masks used last weekend by rescue and dive crews.
The search area stretches four miles, from Puamana Beach Park on the south end of Lahaina to Wahikuli Wayside Park on the north. DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement is providing on-water support.
“We’re going though this sizable area from with a fine-toothed comb,” said Maui Fire Dept. Captain Peter Vanderpoel in a DLNR news release. “Even with a crew this size, I have no doubt this is going to be a multi-day operation.”
“We do know that people went into the water here, so we’re taking a much more forensic approach to the search here because there’s a high probability that we will find items in this area. We’re going through a fine-toothed comb in this area. Other areas outside of here a little bit more of a broad search. We’re really being meticulous in the area along Front Street,” Vanderpoel said.
Firefighters and first responders have been working nearly non-stop for more than two weeks, according to state officials. Some lost their homes. Vanderpoel said, “Right now, I think overall we’re holding up very well. Everbody is still in the fight mode. There’s work to be done. We’re here to stay with it and work until duty does not require us to work anymore. Overall, spirits are high. Even the guys who lost their homes are here.”
“The weeks, months, and years to come is going to be where the healing is when we’ll feel the black eyes and the fat lips. We’re just continuing to fight,” he said.