Pentagon deploys close to 700 personnel to fight fires in Hawaii
The Pentagon has deployed nearly 700 personnel and 140 U.S. Coast Guard responders to Hawaii to help combat the wildfires still spreading across the Pacific island state, according to the latest update.
U.S. defense officials on Friday pledged to continue its efforts in fighting the wildfires until the blazes are fully extinguished and to help with cleanup efforts in the wake of the disaster.
Already, the Army has deployed CH-47 Chinooks to suppress fires while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer is working to remove debris. The Navy and Air Force are also supporting the response across the state.
Federal military responders are assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Hawaii National Guard and other state and local emergency personnel in battling the fires.
The military is focused on missions to carry supplies and resources across the island, carry out aerial fire suppression and fuel distribution operations, and establish support facilities, among others.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Logan, who is leading the response operation under Joint Task Force 5-0 under U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said the “combined strength of our military and civilian partners is making a significant impact on the ground.”
“I’m immensely proud of every individual contributing to these efforts,” Logan said in a call with reporters on Friday. “We will continue to support and aid local, state and federal authorities and partners, ensuring that we offer the best possible support in the days and weeks ahead.”
The task force was formed on Aug. 11 and has reached full operational capacity after President Biden activated the military to respond to the wildfires. Biden is expected to visit Hawaii next week.
The wildfires are primarily blazing on the island of Maui, which has been devastated by the conflagration, with more than 2,000 homes damaged or destroyed and more than a hundred people dead.
Firefighters and emergency responders have now extinguished two fires in Maui but have yet to contain two fires. The Kula fire in upcountry Maui is 80 percent contained and the Lahaina fire is 90 percent contained as of Friday, according to the county.