Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said Sunday that global warming played a major role in the Maui wildfire that destroyed a historic town and has so far killed at least 93 people.
Green spoke about the devastation in the centuries-old town of Lahaina during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” describing the wildfire as a “fire hurricane” with gusting 80 mph winds and “1,000-degree heat creating fire cyclones going through buildings.”
“Everything is burnt to the ground in Lahaina,” the Democrat said, calling it a “war zone” that is “completely destroyed.”
Green attributed strong winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed far to the south of the island last week, and very dry drought conditions on Maui to the fast-moving blaze.
“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,” he said. “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,” Green said.
Green said global warming is “very real for us and everywhere,” issuing a call for people to do what they can to stop and reverse its effects.
The Lahaina fire has become the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. Officials are facing the challenge of identifying the remains that have been recovered so far because the bodies were turned to ash and are falling apart in their hands.
Green also responded to criticism about the island’s siren system failing to warn residents of the approaching fire in time for them to escape.
Thousands of residents fled the town, with video showing some jumping into the Pacific Ocean to escape the inferno.
The governor said officials are looking into whether enough was done to get the sirens activated in time, noting there was mass destruction of telecommunications during the wildfire.
“Otherwise, we ourselves would have communicated like we always do within seconds on our cellphones,” Green said, adding that “we’ll make sure we get to all the answers that people deserve.”