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AP Exclusive: 911 calls from deadly Lahaina wildfire reveal terror and panic in the rush to escape
Maui County has released audio of 911 calls from a deadly August wildfire in response to a public record request from The Associated Press
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Audio of 911 calls from a deadly August wildfire released late Thursday by Maui County authorities reveals a terrifying and chaotic scene as the inferno swept through the historic town of Lahaina and people desperately tried to escape burning homes and flames licking at cars in gridlocked traffic.
The 911 calls were released to The Associated Press in response to a public record request. They cover a period from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 as the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, whipped by powerful winds from a passing hurricane, bore down on the town.
At least 98 people were killed and more than 2,000 structures were destroyed, most of them homes, leveling a historic town that once served as the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom and a port for whaling ships.
The pleas for help came one right after another. Overwhelmed dispatchers repeatedly apologized to callers — at times showing careful compassion, working to soothe terrified callers.