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The Guardian view on Hawaii’s lethal wildfire: lessons to learn from a catastrophe |

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The dreadful scale of the loss of life on the Hawaiian island of Maui has emerged day by day, as search and rescue teams scour ash and rubble. But it is already clear that the wind-fuelled blaze which last week ripped through the historic town of Lahaina was the deadliest wildfire in the United States for more than 100 years.

Hundreds are still missing, and the sheer intensity of the fire means that the identification of bodies and the notification of relatives will be a difficult and slow process. The west Maui town itself, the former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, is a charred wasteland in which close to 3,000 structures were burned to the ground at terrifying speed.

Along with the grim process of recovering the dead, finding viable accommodation for the survivors is the immediate priority. In the weeks ahead, tourists will hopefully heed pleas from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and stay away from the rest of the island. Hotel space and Airbnb accommodation will be needed for first responders and evacuees, not holidaymakers. Reconstruction will then be a laborious process…

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