High winds on Tuesday intensified brush fires in Maui, turning them into rapidly spreading wildfires. Surprisingly, no outdoor warning sirens were set off by either local or state emergency agencies.
Hawaii’s Emergency Services Administration confirmed on Friday, “Neither Maui nor HI-EMA activated warning sirens on Maui during the wildfire incident.”
Residents instead depended on three other warning channels: mobile device alerts, local radio and TV stations, and Maui County’s notification system for subscribed residents.
“The sirens are used to alert the public to seek additional information; they do not necessarily indicate an evacuation,” emergency officials said.
Concerns are rising about the adequacy of the warnings, especially as Hurricane Dora’s winds, present over the central Pacific Ocean, caused power disruptions and hindered mobile communication.
Many believe that the emergency alerts were inadequate during the escalating crisis, leading to confusion in what’s now termed as one of Hawaii’s most catastrophic natural disasters.
“They didn’t give us no warning. No nothing,” Lisa Panis, a resident in western Maui, said in a phone interview. “No siren, no alarms, no nothing.”
There are an estimated 93 fatalities from the Maui disaster as of Sunday morning. Two victim identities have been confirmed due to DNA testing. Only three percent of the burn area has been covered thus far by authorities. It has already become the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history.
An especially unfortunate aspect of the Hawaiian tragedy is that many of the victims appear to be children. An anonymous source claiming to be a “whistleblower” gave her view of local conditions.
“Just reported from a whistleblower: What you’re not hearing from our local government – I just got out of a meeting where I was informed by someone in the Mayors office about developments that are being kept from the public. I am not a conspiracy theorist and I don’t want to make trouble but here’s what I’ve heard.”
“The amount of fatalities is expected to be more than 500 but less than 1000,” the source continued. “Many of the fatalities will be children who were at home because they canceled school. Parents worked and were not there to evacuate the children. Kids had no idea they needed to leave and by the time they noticed their homes or apartments were on fire, it was too late. The government is worried about how we will react when we learn that the fire department left the fire earlier in the day and claimed it was 100% contained knowing that the winds were expected to be 70mph by the afternoon.”
“This is against all fire control protocols,” the source added. “The fire department should not have left the original fire unattended. They are scared that the public calls for accountability will be more than they can control and protests and riots will occur. They plan to lock down Lahaina for several months. It will take months to clean up the hazardous and environmental contamination. They won’t have enough housing for All the displaced. There were 2,000 unaccounted for this morning.