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Coast Guard rescues 14 people from ocean after fleeing Maui wildfires

More than 100 National Guardsmen are helping with the wildfire response.
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An aerial view shows destroyed homes and buildings that burned to the ground around the harbor and Front Street in the historic Lahaina Town in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui in Lahaina, Hawaii, on August 10, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

The Coast Guard has rescued 14 people who fled the raging wildfires on Maui by going into the Pacific Ocean, said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Station Maui and Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin from Air Station Barbers Point took part in the rescue, Ryder told reporters on Thursday.

The 14 people were rescued on Tuesday from the Lahaina Harbor Breakwall and all are listed in stable condition, a Coast Guard news release says.

No further information about the rescue was immediately available.

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At least 36 people have been killed since the wildfires, driven by winds from Hurricane Dora hundreds of miles away, began sweeping over Maui on Tuesday.

A total of 134 National Guardsmen have been activated to help with the wildfire response on Maui, Ryder said at a Pentagon news briefing.

Of those service members, 99 are from the Army National Guard and 35 are with the Air National Guard, Ryder told reporters on Thursday. They will help local law enforcement and provide liaison support to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

The Army National Guard has also dispatched two CH-47 Chinook helicopters to help wildfire response efforts and search and recovery teams, Ryder said at a Pentagon news briefing.

An aerial view of Lahaina after wildfires burned through the town on the Hawaiian island of Maui, on August 10, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon /AFP via Getty Images)

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony Dowdell, a helicopter pilot with the Hawaii Army National Guard, said that his CH-47 Chinook dropped 58 buckets with more than 100,000 gallons of water on the Maui wildfires on Wednesday.

“Ultimately, the reason I joined the National Guard is to serve the community,” Dowdell said in an interview with the State of Hawaii, Department of Defense. “Doing stuff like this, it’s what fulfills me. I mean, it’s horrible that it has to happen. But when it does, we’re definitely here to support and help. It’s what we’re here to do.”

Meanwhile, the Army’s 25th Combat Aviation Brigade has sent two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and one Chinook to assist with efforts to fight the raging wildfires. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 has deployed two MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters to assist the Coast Guard with search and recovery efforts.

“U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Kimball and Joseph Gerczak remain in the area to provide additional support capacity,” Ryder said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Maui at this time and the department will continue to work closely with the state of Hawaii and officials there as we work together to protect lives and battle these terrible wildfires.”

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