An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
The search of the wildfire wreckage on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Thursday revealed a wasteland of burned out homes and obliterated communities as firefighters battled the stubborn blaze that has already claimed 36 lives, making it the deadliest in the U.S. in five years.
Aerial footage showed whole sections of the historic town of Lahaina had been reduced to gray ash, including on Front Street, where tourists shopped and dined just days ago. Smoking heaps of rubble lay piled high next to the waterfront in the town, which dates to the 1700s and is the biggest community on the island's west side. Homes and shops were stripped to their frames or less, boats in the harbor were scorched, and smoke hovered over the leafless skeletons of charred trees.
Fueled by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, the fire started Tuesday and took Maui by surprise, racing through parched growth covering the island.