While this loss of life is tragic in and of itself, as time goes by, more questions pop up.
Officials always start by blaming climate change (sic...) whenever some sort of natural disaster occurs.
I always start by assuming incompetence, and there was certainly plenty of that to go around in this situation.
It was the capital of the original Hawaiian kingdom and was noted for its history and beauty. It was not populated by the chain stores you see on the mainland.
Lahaina was largely owned
and run by natives. It was a truly unique cultural artifact.
Lahaina was also surrounded by government-owned land covered with an exceptionally flammable kind of invasive grass that had been allowed to take over after years of mismanagement.
The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization warned the government repeatedly about the fire risk, but to no avail.
Then the deputy director of Water Resource Management withheld water from firefighters
The Hawaiian firefighters did their job to the best of their ability and were able to put out some small fires initially. But that ability was greatly hampered when the hydrants ran out of water.
The deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management waited for 5 hours before releasing additional water to the fire department, during which time Lahaina burned.
The now-fired deputy director is a former Obama Foundation leader, openly concerned about using water as a tool for social justice, but not, apparently, as a tool for putting out fires.
The warning sirens weren't used
The deputy director was not the only person responsible for lost lives during the fire; the man in charge of the sirens dropped the ball, too.
Hawaii has the largest single integrated public safety outdoor siren warning system in the world...
And yet they did not go off as Lahaina burned.
Maui residents are pretty sure they could have figured it out.
The deputy director has lost his job, the administrator has resigned "for health reasons," but there is no way to compensate the hundreds (probably thousands) of people who have lost loved ones and the unique community that has been burned off the map.
Community members of Lahaina have continued to care for each other
Despite initial reports that aid wasn't getting through, Jeremy Lee Quinn, who is on Maui, reported on the Darkhorse podcast that several community groups had set up relief stations and distributed aid on their own initiative.
He said that about half were tribal-affiliated, though they were not discriminating in whom they helped.
Quinn reported, in fact, that everywhere he traveled on Maui, people immediately asked if he was hungry and wanted to make sure he had eaten recently.
These people are rightly heartbroken, traumatized, and wanting information.
They have been through hell, and they deserve answers.
Social media is full of some wild claims right now
Many residents are convinced that the Maui fire was started by a directed energy weapon (DEW).
Images of houses and cars burning while trees are just fine have been circulating, and this is understandably making the locals suspicious.
Some photographs are circulating online that people are using to "prove" the usage of DEW, though the photos have so far proved to be doctored.
However, the Air Force does have a research site on Maui where they conduct directed energy research.
Another "crazy" theory that may not be so crazy is the presence of aluminum dust in the air.
Retired USAF Brigadier General Charles Jones has publicly stated that millions of tons of aluminum and barium are sprayed across the US almost every day, and the high presence of aluminum in the environment can make wildfires burn hotter than they used to.
Gen. Jones' statement about the flammability of aluminum dust and the increased intensity of wildfires was backed up by Cal Fire Operation Chief Steve Crawford.
Chemtrails and sprays in the air have long been considered the realm of conspiracy theorists, but a site we highly recommend, Mind4Survival, recently published an article about the increased interest in geo-engineering from the federal government.
I don't have any proof that a DEW was used.
Environmental pollution exacerbating wildfires wouldn't surprise me, but I don't have proof of that, either.
And while I believe the USAF could incinerate a city if it wanted to, I don't see a motive here.
There are a lot of coincidences that have to make you wonder
But I do see motives for other interested parties.
We can start by looking at laws around water usage.
Squabbles between native landowners and developers over water usage have been going on for over a century.
In 2022, a group representing native landowners actually won a major legal battle, which would have let them obtain water-use permits guaranteeing them water rather than forcing them to live off the golf courses and newer developments' leftovers.
Strangely enough, the new rules were supposed to go into effect on August 7, the day before the fires began.
And, naturally, as soon as the fires came, Hawaii Governor Josh Green announced a suspension of all prior water agreements.
Residents attending meetings after the fires have complained that all discussion about rebuilding has centered around the need to speed up the permitting process.
There has been no discussion of how to maintain the culture of old Lahaina and how to make sure the people that wanted to stay were able to stay.
It's all about rebuilding as quickly as possible and residents are suspicious that they will be priced out of whatever goes up. There was a housing crisis before the fires.
Residents are now in an even worse situation.
To make matters worse, the few residents whose homes survived the fires have been served eviction notices. No wonder Lahaina residents are so angry and confused.
But don't worry. The billionaires are okay...
Like any good politician trying to look like a knight in shining white armor for his constituents, Gov. Green immediately criticized real-estate developers for calling fire victims, trying to buy up their properties.
A full video of his press release shows him insisting that the burned land will be kept in ownership by Hawaiians; he specifies not allowing the land to be bought by foreign real estate developers.
But this does not take into account the fact that Hawaii is already home to many billionaire real-estate investors. Oprah Winfrey could buy up all of Lahaina, and Green would not be technically letting the island be bought up by "out of state" investors.
In fact, Oprah has already spent over $6 million buying property on Maui just in 2023. She currently owns 1000 acres close to Lahaina, which were incidentally somehow untouched.
And Oprah must be the luckiest woman alive because this is not the first time something like this has happened near her real-estate holdings.
In 2017, a deadly fire destroyed many homes near Oprah's Montecito mansion, but, just like in Maui, her property was untouched.
And afterward, she went on to buy up many of the damaged properties.
Lahaina residents have refused to sell for many years
Lahaina residents have been notorious for being unwilling to sell.
They have a nice community in a tropical paradise that they are emotionally attached to.
A joint Japanese-American case study called JUMPSmartMaui was conducted and published in 2017 regarding turning Maui into a smart community.
Maui also hosted a Digital Government Summit this year.
The conference's sponsors are trying to play this off as something just relating to practical governing matters, but the conference did offer a lot about collecting data in the name of equity and identity and access management.
Fact-checkers are scoffing at all this, saying that these conferences and research projects have nothing to do with turning Lahaina into a 15-minute city, but again, there are a lot of coincidences here.
I can hardly blame the locals for suspecting that the planners wanting to control their city had a hand in its destruction.
And the information lockdown is not helping
The antidote to fear and paranoia among traumatized residents is transparency, not telling the local news reporters to shut up.
I don't have the answers.
Obviously, incompetence was at play.
I sincerely hope that the residents of Lahaina will be able to stay in their historic area and rebuild.
But my fear is that, with the fire damage, only developers will be able to afford the cleanup.