Officials announced Thursday that the death toll from wildfires on Maui now stands at 55, making it one of the deadliest blazes in the last century.
The new fatality count is a significant jump from the 36 confirmed dead on Wednesday, a day after the fire ignited, sending the historic Hawaiian tourist destination town of Lahaina up in flames. The death toll has increased as rescuers have been able to reach parts of the island previously inaccessible due to fires and other obstructions.
“What we’ve seen today has been catastrophic,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) said during a news conference Thursday after walking through Lahaina, calling the event likely the largest natural disaster in the state’s history. “We’ve also seen many hundreds of homes destroyed, and that’s going to take a great deal of time to recover from.”