Wildfires in Hawaii, aided by dry conditions and high winds, have prompted mass evacuations and caused significant destruction, particularly in the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, leading to 53 confirmed fatalities and significant property damage.
Driving the news: High winds, amplified by Hurricane Dora passing to the south, have created severe wildfires across Maui and the Big Island, resulting in widespread evacuations and substantial property damage.
* Authorities report the closure of schools and roads, and confirm at least 400 structures in Lahaina have been damaged or destroyed.
* Previous fatalities, along with 17 new fatalities on Thursday, bring the death toll to 53.
* Maui County authorities continue to fight the fires, with no unauthorized entry into Lahaina due to safety concerns.
Government responses: Both local and federal authorities have mobilized in response to the disaster.
* President Biden has declared a state of emergency for Hawaii, enabling federal funding to become available for those affected by the fires, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.
* Honolulu, on the island of O’ahu, has prepared the Hawaii Convention Center to accommodate up to 2,000 displaced people, including both tourists and local residents.
Mobility impacts: The wildfires have prompted significant travel disruptions and evacuations.
* Officials have discouraged non-essential travel to Maui.
* Approximately 11,000 tourists left Maui in the wake of the damage on Wednesday with an expected further 1,500 departing on Thursday, according to state transportation director Ed Sniffen.
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