Restrictions lifting in areas devastated by Hawaii wildfire
HONOLULU — From just outside the burn zone in Lahaina, Jes Claydon can see the ruins of the rental home where she lived for 13 years and raised three children. Little remains recognizable beyond the jars of sea glass that stood outside the front door.
Today, officials will begin lifting restrictions on entry to the area, and Claydon hopes to collect those jars and any other mementos she might find.
“I want the freedom to just be there and absorb what happened,” Claydon said. “Whatever I might find, even if it’s just those jars of sea glass, I’m looking forward to taking it. … It’s a piece of home.”
Authorities will begin allowing the first residents and property owners to return to their properties in the burn zone, many for the first time since it was demolished nearly seven weeks ago, on Aug. 8, by the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.
The prospect of returning has stirred strong emotions in residents who fled in vehicles or on foot as the windwhipped flames raced across Lahaina, the historic capital of the former Hawaiian kingdom, and overcame people stuck in traffic trying to escape. Some survivors jumped over a seawall and sheltered in the waves as hot black smoke blotted out the sun. The wildfire killed at least 97 people and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings, most of them homes.
Claydon’s home was a single-story cinderblock house painted a reddish-tan, similar to the red dirt in Lahaina. She can see the property from a National Guard blockade that has kept unauthorized people out of the burn zone. A few of the walls are still standing, and some green lawn remains, she said.
Authorities have divided the burned area into 17 zones and dozens of subzones. Residents or property owners of the first to be cleared for reentry — known as Zone 1C, along Kaniau Road in the north part of Lahaina — will be allowed to return on supervised visits today and Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those eligible could pick up passes from Friday to Sunday in advance.