At least 850 people are still missing almost two weeks after wildfires desecrated Maui, Hawaii, killing 115 people.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, the fires started on Tuesday, August 8 and rapidly overtook neighborhoods in historic Lahaina, the largest community on the west side of Maui. Dry summer conditions and strong winds from Hurricane Dora as it passed the island expedited the fire's growth.
The destructive fires scorched around 2,500 acres and destroyed hundreds of structures. It also killed at least 115 people, making the Maui fires the deadliest in modern history.
More than 850 people are still believed to be missing, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen wrote in a statement on Facebook.
The FBI, Bissen noted, was able to determine an estimated number of missing persons by analyzing and refining lists of names of missing people.
"We are both saddened and relieved about these numbers," Bissen said.
"There is positive news in this number, because when this process began, the missing person list contained over 2,000 names," adding that more than 1,285 people have been found.
The death toll could rise as rescuers continue searching previously inaccessible areas.
According to NBC News, at this time, just 27 victims have been identified, and 11 families have been notified.
On August 10, President Joe Biden declared the fire a "major disaster" and ordered federal aid to be distributed to help state and local authorities with relief and recovery efforts.
On August 21, nearly two weeks after the fires scorched the land, the President and the First Lady, Jill Biden, visited Maui to view the damage and devastation left behind.
"To the people of Hawaii, we're with you for as long as it takes, I promise you," President Biden said from Lahaina on Monday, CBS News reports. "May God bless all those we've lost, may God find those whom we haven't determined yet, and may God bless you all."
Noting that the federal government will support the people of Maui for as long as they need, President Biden said, "We're focused on what's next — that's rebuilding the long-term — rebuilding for long-term — and doing it together to help get us back on our feet."
He continued, "To rebuild the way we want to rebuild, by making sure your voices are heard, but respecting your traditions, by understanding the deep history and meaning of this sacred ground, and establishing your community not to change its character, but to reestablish it."
According to the Maui government, as of this writing, the Pulehu / Kihei fire is 100 percent contained, the Lahaina fire is 90 percent contained, and the Kula and Olinda fires are 85 percent contained.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Justin Sullivan/Staff
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.