Burned houses and buildings in Lahaina on the Hawaii island of Maui (Picture: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


Warning sirens on the island of Maui were silent as a terrifying fires tore through communities, Hawaii’s emergency management agency confirmed.

The fires killed at least 96 people last week, making the disaster the deadliest of its kind in US history.

The number of fatalities is expected to rise as authorities continue to search for and identify victims.

Hawaii boasts what it describes as the largest system of outdoor public safety warning sirens in the world, that should sound in cases of danger.

Those who survived the fire have since questioned why none of the 80 sirens placed around the island were activated.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s spokesman, Adam Weintraub, has confirmed that the sirens were not sounded, reports the New York Times.

He added that if they had been activated they would not have been a sign to evacuate but to seek more information.


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One of the emergency sirens placed around Hawaii that were not sounded last week (Picture: Hawaii Emergency Management Agency)


Mr Weintraub said other alert systems were activated, such as text messages and broadcasts on radio and TV stations, but with much of the island’s power out on Tuesday many residents didn’t get these warnings.

He said the agency would be cooperating with the state attorney’s general review of the response to the fires.

One resident, Lisa Panis, told NBCNews: ‘They didn’t give us no warning. No nothing. No siren, no alarms, no nothing.’

Meanwhile, Hawaii governor Josh Green called the blaze a ‘fire hurricane’, with winds of 80mph and temperatures reaching an incredible ‘1,000 degrees’.

Mr Green told MSNBC on Sunday that the weather front, pushed on by Hurricane Dora, created fire cyclones that were able to go through buildings.

He called the area a war zone, adding: ‘Everything is burnt to the ground in Lahaina.

‘When fire jumped from one spot to another – there were three or four fires going on at the same time – it got seeded very quickly with those 80 mph gusted winds.

‘And then the fire moved at essentially a mile per minute, 60 mph down through the community.

‘That’s what a fire hurricane is going to look like in the era of global warming.’

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Hawaii governor Josh Green called the blaze a ‘fire hurricane’ (Picture: NBC News)


New footage has emerged of people who were forced to jump into the ocean to escape the blaze.

People in the historic town of Lahaina – the most severely affected area – can be seen struggling in the choppy water as thick smoke and embers surround them.

Joan Hayashi, a resident of the town, told Fox 11 that those in the water had to wait for eight hours to be rescued.

He added: ‘It sounded like a giant blow torch, we had to run in the ocean. We’re in the ocean probably like eight hours. Flames were hitting, things were falling from the palm tree.’

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Emergency services are picking through the burnt out landscape looking for human remains (Picture: AFP via Getty Images Source: AFP)


Although many were rescued from the sea not everyone made it out alive.

Federal emergency workers are currently sifting through the burnt out shells of buildings in Lahaina and letting authorities know when they find human remains.

But Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said identifying the dead was difficult because they ‘pick up the remains and they fall apart’.

This was due to the incredibly hot fire that was able to melt metal.



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