LAHAINA, Hawaii – Once again, a Maui community was upended by fire activity on the Hawaiian island when a brush fire prompted new evacuations over the weekend, as the search for remains continues more than two weeks after the deadly brush fires in Lahaina.
Recovery and search efforts continued on West Maui Sunday, more than two weeks after wind-whipped fires destroyed the town of Lahaina, including thousands of homes.
On Saturday, a vegetation fire burned 7 acres in the Anapuni neighborhood, prompting new evacuations. The fire was contained at 85%, and firefighters stopped the blaze from progressing, allowing residents to return home, according to Maui County officials.
Three other fires on Maui, including the Olinda, Kula and Lahaina fires, are nearly contained, but crews continue to monitor the areas for new hot spots and fire activity.
The fire danger isn't over for Hawaii. Drought conditions persist on the island of Maui, including severe drought on West Maui, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Remains of 115 people have been found, with 99% of the Lahaina fire area searched by cadaver dogs and search teams.
Over the last week, more than 100 on the unaccounted list were found safe, according to the FBI. The drop in missing individuals was in part because the Maui County Sheriff's Office released a complete list of 388 verified missing persons for the first time since the fires.
The county continues to update the list on a website dedicated to Maui's recovery and the search for missing persons.
County officials continue to plead with survivors to provide DNA samples to help identify remains. Samples can be collected at the Family Assistance Center at the Hyatt Regency in Ka‘anapali or on the mainland by contacting a local FBI office.
While most residents in the restricted burn area know they won't have a home to return to, many want to return to look for pets, find items that may have survived the fire and for emotional closure.
Since the fires, FEMA has received 11,010 applications for assistance. So far, the agency has distributed more than $14.6 million in emergency housing and individual aid.
Lahaina residents are still waiting for barriers to open to return to the fire area to check for any belongings that may have survivors. The disaster area is restricted to authorized personnel because of dangers from the fire debris, including ash with toxic chemicals, exposed electrical wires and unstable structures that could collapse.
According to Maui County, there is a coordinated effort to come up with a plan to allow residents to return safely.