-Top News Environment USA

Hawaii wildfire death toll hits 99

More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed by the blaze, with roughly 86 per cent of them being residential buildings…reports Asian Lite News

The death toll from the devastating wildfires in the US state of Hawaii’s Maui Island has increased to 99, authorities said on Tuesday.

Addressing reporters, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said that “there are 99 so far”, and about 25 per cent of the affected area has been searched, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The scale of destruction is incredible,” said Hawaii Governor Josh Green.

More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed by the blaze, with roughly 86 per cent of them being residential buildings, according to the governor.

In an interview on Monday, the Governor warned that 10 to 20 more wildfire victims could be found daily as search crews continued combing through scorched ruins on the island .

The wildfire is now the deadliest in more than a century in modern US history, surpassing the Camp Fire that erupted on November 8, 2018, in California and killed at least 85 people.

The Lahaina fire, which has burned 2,170 acres, was 85 per cent contained as of Monday evening, Maui County officials said in its latest update. 

The wildfires have nearly completely destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, a popular tourist spot on Maui and once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

It’s home to around 13,000 residents.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Electric, alleging a downed power line on Maui caused the deadly wildfire.

The cause of the fires has not been determined, but plaintiffs said in the 37-page document that the utility company’s equipment could be a possible source of ignition.

Hawaiian Electric, which operates the utility that serves Maui, had come under scrutiny for not turning off power despite weather forecasters’ warnings that dry, gusty winds could create critical fire conditions.

The plaintiffs said the destruction “could have been avoided” if the utility company shut down its power lines before the high winds hit the island.

“By failing to shut off the power during these dangerous fire conditions, defendants caused loss of life, serious injuries, destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, displacement of thousands of people, and damage to many of Hawaii’s historic and cultural sites,” said the complaint.

ALSO READ: Blinken says no sanctions relief for Iran under prisoner deal