Hawaii wildfires: First group of residents return to Lahaina

HONOLULU — Residents who lost their homes in the wildfires that destroyed the Hawaiian town of Lahaina were allowed to return to their homes on Monday after nearly two months of waiting.

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Residents were allowed to return in phases, Hawaii News Now reported. Residents returned to properties in Zone 1C, according to the news outlet.

The total number of residents allowed back into the fire-ravaged was about 100, and approximately 24 residences were included in an area along Kaniau Road, Hawaii News Now reported.

“They’re very appreciative to get in here, something they’ve all been waiting anxiously for,” Darryl Oliveira, interim administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, told reporters on Monday. “People who haven’t been here since the fire are taken aback by the amount of and extent of the destruction.”

The death toll from the fire remains at 97. On Monday, officials identified another person who died, KITV reported.

Officials said that Matsuykui Osato, 83, of Lahaina died in the fire.

The names of 83 people who died in the fire have been released publicly, according to the television station, KITV reported. Authorities said there are six other people who have been positively identified, but their families have not been notified.

Oliveira said returning to destroyed properties will be difficult for families, Hawaii News Now reported.

“Talking to the staff, they had a couple of emotional moments, especially for someone older showing up with a family member that has some mobility challenges and just being concerned that they want to get their insurance representative on to their properties,” Oliveira said. “I think that’s the common type of scenario ... just people who are struggling and want to get some closure, not just that emotional closure, but maybe even financial closure with their insurance.

“They want to go in. There’s going to be dust. How much dust is too much dust, we do not know,” said Pang. “I would tell them read what happened after 9/11. They thought there would not be long-term side effects, but the cancers show way later for people who worked that day.”

Oliveira said that officials will be able to help people who have lost their homes, KHON-TV reported.

“They might have a memento or a certain thing of importance on ground, so we’ll put volunteers there, and proper equipment to look and help the families,” Oliveira told reporters. ‘I cannot stress the dangers out there, there’s a lot of debris on the private parcels that will be cleaned later.

“We want people to see their properties, bring them closure, and have that moment to grieve and bring closure.”

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