Hawaii is facing a state of emergency as wildfires fueled by strong winds from a distant hurricane have killed at least 36 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings on the island of Maui.
The fires, which started on Tuesday, have spread rapidly across the island, forcing evacuations and disrupting flights and ferries. The county of Maui said in a statement that the Lahaina fire was the deadliest and most destructive, wiping out much of the historic town and its surrounding areas.
The county also said that more than 20,000 people had been evacuated and that more than 1,000 buildings had been damaged or flooded. The governor’s office said that it had activated the National Guard and requested federal assistance to deal with the crisis.
The fires were also affecting the Big Island, where at least three brush fires were burning and prompting several evacuations. Officials said that the fires were caused by a combination of drought conditions, low humidity, and strong winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed well south of the islands but created a large pressure difference that increased the wind speed. They also urged residents and tourists to avoid non-essential travel to Maui and to follow the instructions of local authorities.