The AtlanticThe Atlantic

We’re in an age of fire

By Caroline Mimbs Nyce

10 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. Hawaii has experienced its worst wildfire in modern history, with at least 53 people dead and the tourism hub of Lahaina burned flat. The fire was fueled by hot, dry winds from Hurricane Dora, which was supposed to miss the islands.

A few days ago, the hurricane forecasts looked good. Dora was going to miss Hawaii, passing by far to the south. And yet the storm still ended up wreaking havoc on the islands, not as a rain-bearing cyclone but as wind—hot, dry wind, which, as it blew across the island of Maui, met wildfire.

A fire with no wind is relatively easy to control; a fire on a gusty day, especially in a dry, mountainous area with a town nearby, is a worst-case scenario for firefighters. And so it was. Fires began burning Tuesday, and by that night, they had reached the tourism hub of Lahaina, eventually burning it flat. Power was knocked out; 911 went down. Residents swam into the cool ocean to avoid the flames. At least 53 people have died so far.

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