Hawaii’s Maui wildfires death toll climbs to 53

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Hawaii Gov. Josh Green spoke Thursday on the impact of climate change in the state and how its government and residents can respond in the future.

“We’ve never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this before,” Green said at Thursday night’s news conference, mentioning the state has been impacted by wildfires previously but largely in open spaces.

It was a “shock,” he said, to see the effects of Hurricane Dora — in particular, the trade winds that blow across Hawaii — affect the state in such a manner from hundreds of miles away.

“I think we’re seeing this in many different parts of the world, fires from California to Colorado,” Green said, noting he has been contacted by “several governors” on the impact of the wildfires and shared their experiences.

“It is difficult now in a time where global warming is combined with strengthening storms and drought,” he said, and vowed that the state would do whatever it could in its power to better anticipate such disasters.

“I do think that as we rebuild, we’ll have to take into consideration a lot more fire safety,” Green said.

The state is short on supplies and equipment, including helicopters and personnel, he said, including the difficulties of ensuring firefighters and police are paid adequately.

“But this is going to be a priority,” Green said. “Climate change is here and it’s affecting the islands, and I think that’s what we’re seeing with this fire.”

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