Nearly three weeks after a devastating fire tore through part of Maui, rescue and recovery efforts continue in Hawaii. Hundreds of military service members are assisting in delivery supplies, searching for missing people and fighting additional fires.

Approximately 572 Department of Defense personnel are involved under Joint Task Force 5-0, including active-duty troops, National Guardsmen and reservists, according to the Pentagon. That is an increase over the roughly 400 there a week ago. There are also dozens of members of the U.S. Coast Guard participating in rescue and recovery efforts.

On Thursday, U.S. Army Col. David Fielder, the deputy dual-status commander of Joint Task Force 5-0, addressed the military response and criticisms that the Pentagon has been slow to provide troops and supplies to Maui.

“It may seem slow from the outside,” Fielder said. “But … it’s been going very quickly, as needed, as requested by the local and state [officials], who are ultimately in charge of the entire operation.”

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Brush fires began on Maui on Aug. 8. One of the largest was in the town of Lahaina. Strong winds quickly spread the flames, destroying much of the town. Maui has been experiencing drought, which contributed to the fire’s impact. After the blaze, water remains in short supply and troops with JTF 5-0 have been distributing water to communities on the island.

19 days after the fire, the official death toll stands at 155 as of press time, although more than 200 people remain missing. On Friday, the FBI said that 100 people on a previously released list of 388 missing persons were reported safe by family members. 

The military also has a forensics lab set up to help search for remains of missing people. A team of Navy divers recently arrived on the island and will search the waters for remains. When the fires broke out, many people fled into the ocean to try and escape the flames. At the time the U.S. Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the waves. 

A brush fire broke out on Maui this weekend, burning seven acres before it was contained. JTF 5-0 helped with firefighting efforts, including providing a U.S. Army Chinook CH-47 helicopter that dumped water on the blaze. 

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