Angry scenes unfolded on Lahaina Road on Friday as police reopened the thoroughfare for the first time since the devastating wildfires – and 100 people ended up defying officers trying to control access.
Footage shared on social media showed a long line of cars heading towards the fire-ravaged town after the road opened at noon.
People had to show either proof of residence in the West Maui area or proof that they were staying at a hotel in the area.
But by 5 p.m. the road had been closed in both directions and police said distraught and irate residents were causing chaos, with one officer saying riots seemed inevitable.
An officer said Honolulu’s star announcer that people parked along the highway and ventured into areas that were not yet considered safe, and became “emotional” when the police asked them to leave the area.
A long line of cars is seen pouring into Lahaina on Friday after the road to town reopened at noon. Only those with proof of residence or hotels in the area can enter
Friday, people walk through the apocalyptic scenes of Lahaina
Lahaina has been devastated by wildfire, with beloved wooden buildings from the 1800s going up in smoke
At 6 p.m. the cars were allowed to leave, but the Lahaina road remained closed.
Maui County officials confirmed there had been unrest and urged people to obey orders to avoid certain areas.
They said anyone found in a closed part of town could be arrested.
“The Lahaina Road has been opened to local residents to provide medicine and supplies to their families staying in west side homes who require such assistance outside of the fire/biohazard area. “, the local authority said in a statement.
“Many people park on the Lahaina Bypass and walk through the Makai areas of the bypass, which is locked down due to hazardous conditions and biohazard.
“This area has been declared by Mayor Bissen as an area for authorized personnel only, and those in this area will be escorted and may be arrested.
“This area is an active police scene, and we must uphold the dignity of the lives lost and respect their surviving families.”
Local officials asked people to understand that police and other search and rescue teams need time and space to do their job.
“Unauthorized entry into these areas increases the danger to themselves and delays our operations as MPD and National Guard personnel must halt search efforts and escort individuals,” they said.
“If people continue to disobey orders, the entrance to Lahaina will be closed again and only open to emergency personnel.”
The death toll from Tuesday and Wednesday’s fires rose to 67 on Friday.
Josh Green, Hawaii’s governor, warned those returning home: “They will see destruction like they have never seen in their lives.”
Hawaii Governor Josh Green is seen in Lahaina on Friday surveying the damage
Members of the Hawaiian National Guard are seen combing the devastated city on Friday
Rescue workers search the charred ruins of Lahaina, West Maui
On Thursday, two people stand near a destroyed structure in the town of Lahania
The burned city is photographed from the air. People jumped into the sea to escape the flames
Hospice workers cared for people, counseling those struggling to cope with the trauma of destruction.
“If there is a clinical team of a team that is prepared for this, I would say it would be our clinical palliative care team, and maybe teams that are in the emergency department because they deal with trauma on a daily basis and of death,” said Kathleen Hogarty, director of advancement for Hospice Maui.
“So that’s not to say my team isn’t affected, but that’s what they do for a living and they didn’t even ask, they just jumped in (and said) ‘what can I do? -U.S? And they’re out there doing it.
As the scale of the devastation became clearer and cadaveric dogs searched for bodies, startling new photos showed how even boats in the harbor were engulfed in fire.
The burning hulls of ships jumped into the water on Friday, showing that no place was safe.
Many people jumped into the sea to try to escape the flames, and the US Coast Guard said it rescued 17 people who fled into the Pacific Ocean.
They also recovered a body.
The charred wreckage of a boat floats off Lahaina
People dove into the ocean to try to flee the fires, but the waves even engulfed boats
The still-smoldering debris of a Lahaina Port building
A partially submerged hull of a boat is seen off Lahaina, Maui
The Coast Guard rescued 17 people from the ocean, but many more are feared to have perished
Docks and moorings were destroyed by the fire that swept through Lahaina Tuesday and Wednesday
Waves crash into a scorched boat sitting in the waters off Lahaina on Friday
A whale-watching boat is seen melted and twisted by the heat of the fires
The Port of Lahaina was devastated by the fire
“They encountered casualties who were in the water and also on the seawall,” said Honolulu Section Commander Capt. Aja Kirksey.
There have been no additional rescues since Wednesday morning, she said.
Coast Guard resources — including three cutters and two small boat crews — patrolled the harbor for survivors for more than 15 hours covering about 500 square miles, Kirksey said.
“The Honolulu Coast Guard Sector Command Center issued urgent maritime information to all sailors indicating what we believe to be a mass rescue, resulting in an eight-ship response from the Good Samaritan,” said said Kirksey.
“Our crews responded in a truly heroic manner.”