Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, acting on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, has issued an emergency proclamation as wildfires strengthened by Hurricane Dora continue to rage across the state’s islands.
“We are closely following the wildfires caused by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora,” Luke said via Hawaii news outlet KITV4. “The safety of our residents is paramount, and this emergency proclamation will activate the Hawai’i National Guard to support emergency responders in the impacted communities.”
The wildfires have burned hundreds of acres in the counties of Hawaii and Maui, including in the North Kohala, South Kohala, Kula and Lahaina areas, forcing evacuations and closures of roads and schools.
“Lt. Governor Luke has my full support,” said Green, who is traveling, per the report. He added: “My thoughts are with the residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Dora.”
The emergency proclamation authorizes the use of the Hawaii National Guard and additional resources from the Major Disaster Fund, allows the director of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency and the administrator of Emergency Management to issue alerts and warnings, and mobilizes state personnel to respond to the fires.
The order begins immediately and runs through Aug. 15.
The proclamation comes as efforts to combat the flames have been impeded by the storm.
Wind gusts have mostly prevented helicopters from dumping water on the fires from the sky — or collecting more precise information about the fire sizes — and firefighters have encountered roads blocked by downed trees and power lines, County of Maui spokesperson Mahina Martin told the Associated Press.
About 13,000 customers in Maui were without power as of Tuesday night, according to Hawaiian Electric.
“It’s definitely one of the more challenging days for our island given that it’s multiple fires, multiple evacuations in the different district areas,” Martin said.
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen also issued an emergency proclamation in response to fires.
The American Red Cross announced it has opened Maui High School as an evacuation center. It is also staffing emergency shelters at Kihei Community Center, Lahaina Civic Center and at Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.
Residents of West Maui were evacuated Tuesday evening. The Hawaii Pacific Coast Guard responded to areas impacted by the fires and a crew was able to rescue 12 people from the water off of Lahaina.
“The USCG continues the joint response with federal and state partners while the USCG Cutter Kimball is en route to Maui to enhance efforts,” the USCG said.
A firefighter who was responding to the West Maui fire was injured due to smoke inhalation and was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center. He is in stable condition.
High wind warnings and red flag warnings for dangerous fire weather remain in effect.
These conditions are expected to remain through Wednesday and into Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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