Military aircraft from the US Coast Guard and Hawaii National Guard are responding to a deadly wildfire on the island of Maui, which has already killed at least 36 people and destroyed hundreds of structures, according to the Pentagon.
The fire, which rapidly engulfed the town of Lahaina on 8 August, forced more than a dozen residents of the area to flee into the Pacific Ocean to escape flames and smoke. The wildfire was fuelled by intense winds from a hurricane passing through the region.
The USCG Sector Honolulu says on 10 August it scrambled a Sikorsky MH-65 Dolphin search and rescue helicopter in response, augmented by two USN Sikorsky MH-60 helicopters. 14 survivors of the blaze were rescued from Lahaina harbour waters.
Elsewhere, Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters responded to the fire, providing air support to firefighters on the ground.
The Pentagon says on 10 August that military aircrews have conducted 58 aerial water drops of more than 100,000 gallons of water.
Local officials declared a state of emergency on Maui, where two other wildfires are burning. President Joe Biden on 10 August approved a disaster declaration for Hawaii, which makes additional resources funding available from the federal government in Washington.
Commercial flights passing over the island captured images of the blaze. Numerous airlines with service to Hawaii, including Southwest, American and Alaska, are adding flights to archipelago, as thousands of visitors and residents seek to evacuate.
Some 11,000 people have already been flown off Maui since the disaster began.
Passenger captures devastating scenes from the wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii. pic.twitter.com/7C2XqexNE0— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) August 10, 2023