“Hawaii’s Emergency Warning System Failed to Alert Residents as Wildfire Killed Dozens”

The emergency warning system in Maui, Hawaii, failed to alert residents of an approaching wildfire that killed at least 55 people and destroyed a historic town, according to officials. Despite having what is described as the largest integrated outdoor warning system in the world, many residents reported not hearing any sirens and only became aware of the danger when they saw flames or heard explosions. The fire, fueled by dry conditions and strong winds, caught residents and emergency services off guard, resulting in a high death toll. The cause of the failure in the warning system is still under investigation. News Herald reported

Residents of Maui who narrowly escaped the devastating wildfires that destroyed their homes are questioning why Hawaii’s emergency warning system failed to alert them. Despite having what is described as the largest integrated outdoor all-hazard public safety warning system in the world, with around 400 sirens positioned across the island chain, there is no indication that the sirens were triggered before the fires broke out. Many survivors in Lahaina said they only became aware of the danger when they saw flames or heard explosions nearby. The lack of real-time information due to power and cell phone outages meant that residents had no warning of the approaching fires. It is not clear if emergency alerts were sent before the communication cut-off. The fire, fueled by dry conditions and strong winds, caught Maui by surprise and has already become the state’s deadliest natural disaster in decades. The fire has also highlighted the limitations of Maui’s firefighting efforts, with a small staff and a lack of off-road vehicles to combat the blaze effectively. The death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue. The fire has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for residents and tourists in Lahaina, with tourists being advised to stay away from the area. President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster on Maui and pledged federal assistance to those affected..