Volunteers helped restore power at two sites in west Maui (Picture: County of Maui/Facebook)

Emergency alarms failed to warn ordinary people on the Hawaiian island of Maui that wildfires were tearing through the island.

It was a shocking reminder of how those supposedly in charge are unprepared to deal with extreme wildfires and weather caused by climate change.

As of Sunday, the deadly fires had killed around 100 people, and 2,200 structures were damaged or destroyed. Tragically, many more casualties were expected to be discovered. 

The Hawaii Emergency Services Administration confirmed that an emergency alarm, tested every week, failed to go off on the day the fires began.

Many residents have reported to the media that they only knew about the fire when they saw it closing in on them. Local resident Lynn Robinson said, “There was no warning. There was absolutely none. Nobody came around.”

Firefighters have said that the fires have burned so hot that bodies have been almost impossible to identify.

According to officials, about 80 ­percent of the town of Lahaina was completely destroyed by the blaze. That means around 4,500 people are being forced to stay in shelters. The fires were able to burn so quickly across the island because of high winds of up to 100 mph caused by a nearby hurricane.

And Hawaii, the 50th state of America, has been getting much less rainfall for the past decade due to global warming. These two factors combined have led to the most ferocious wildfires in Hawaii’s history.

Now, those whose homes were destroyed in the fires worry they may never get to rebuild their lives and homes on Maui.

Poor residents of Maui are ­concerned that wealthy developers will take advantage of the blaze to build new and more expensive homes and hotels.

Local chef Richy Palalay said, “I’m more concerned about big land developers coming in and seeing this charred land as an opportunity to rebuild. We worry they’ll build hotels and condos that we can’t afford to live in—that’s what we’re afraid of.” 

Already the price of property on the island is astronomical. The average price for a home in Maui is $1.2 million (£950,000). The average condo is $850,000 (£670,000).

United States president Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Hawaii last Thursday. This declaration included promises to give residents grants to rebuild their homes. But there are further concerns that this money will not get to residents quickly or be enough for them to rebuild.

Many residents are still waiting for payments they were promised after Hurricane Iniki ripped through the island in 1992. Capitalist vultures will see the climate crisis as a way to displace ordinary people and price them out of their homes to make a profit.

Only a fightback against the developers and the climate crisis will stop them from getting their way. And a disaster of this scale ­happening in the US shows climate change is not restricted to the Global South where it’s currently ravaging.

Climate change is coming for the whole globe, but leaders will still ignore its deadly consequences.


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