Last Victim of Maui Wildfires Identified, Death Toll Reaches 100
The Maui Police Department has confirmed that Lydia Coloma, a 70-year-old resident of Lahaina, has been identified as the last victim of the devastating Maui wildfires. This brings the total death toll from the fires to 100. Lahaina, a town in Maui, was nearly destroyed by the fast-moving fires that occurred in August. Thousands of structures, mostly homes, were engulfed in flames.
According to the Maui County list, approximately two-thirds of the known victims who perished in the fire were 60 years old or older, similar to Coloma’s age. With Coloma’s identification, all families of the deceased have been located and notified. Furthermore, there are no unidentified bodies related to the fires.
The wildfires started on August 8, when Hawaii was under a red flag warning due to high wind conditions caused by Hurricane Dora. Hawaiian Electric, the state’s electric utility company, acknowledged that their power lines sparked the wildfire on Maui. However, they also blamed county firefighters for declaring the blaze contained and leaving the scene, only to have it reignite nearby.
The evacuation process during the wildfires was chaotic, and emergency services were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in need. Residents fleeing the flames were unsure where to go, as 911 calls revealed. Additionally, officials have faced criticism for not activating the island’s evacuation sirens, which could have alerted more people to the danger. The decision not to sound the sirens was defended by Maui Emergency Management Agency Administrator Herman Andaya, who believed it would cause more chaos.
The death toll remained uncertain for weeks after the fires were brought under control. The FBI estimated that between 1,000 and 1,100 people were initially missing, but this number was later updated to 385 missing and 115 confirmed dead. The Department of Defense and physical anthropologists helped identify victims who were in cars or houses during the fire.
While tourism has started to return to West Maui, Lahaina remains off-limits to everyone except residents and business owners. Local residents are struggling to balance the need for tourism, which is crucial to the state’s economy, with their own trauma from the fires. Many who lost their homes are currently staying in hotels, and there are concerns that rising costs may force some residents out of Maui’s already limited housing market.
The Maui wildfires have left a lasting impact on the community, and efforts are underway to rebuild and support those affected by this tragedy. As the identification of the last victim brings closure to their families, the healing process can begin for the island of Maui.