NATIONAL NEWS

Hawaii officials identify the last of the 100 known victims of the wildfire that destroyed Lahaina

Jan 27, 2024, 8:47 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm

FILE - Photos of victims are displayed under white crosses at a memorial for victims of the August ...

FILE - Photos of victims are displayed under white crosses at a memorial for victims of the August 2023 wildfire, above the Lahaina Bypass highway, Dec. 6, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Hawaii officials said Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, that they have identified the last of the 100 known victims of the wildfire that destroyed Lahaina in August of last year. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

HONOLULU (AP) — The last of the 100 known victims of the wildfire that destroyed Maui’s historic town of Lahaina in August was identified Friday as a 70-year-old woman whose husband, sister and several other relatives also died in the fire.

Maui police said they identified the victim as Lydia Coloma based on the context of where the remains were found, rather than through DNA or other positive identification methods.

Her husband, along with a sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, also died in the fire, said her sister-in-law, Tina Acosta, in Honolulu. Coloma was from the Ilocos Sur province in the Philippines, Acosta said, adding that she didn’t know why the final identification took so long.

“We were waiting,” she said.

Identifying those who perished in the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century has been a long, arduous process. Forensic experts and cadaver dogs have had to sift through ash searching for bodies that were possibly cremated, and authorities collected DNA samples from victims’ family members.

The DNA testing allowed officials in September to revise the death toll downward, from 115 to at least 97. The toll rose slightly over the next month as some victims succumbed to their injuries or as police found additional remains.

The number of those who remain unaccounted for has also fallen — to just a few from a previous high of nearly 400, according to the Maui Police Department. Coloma was on the unaccounted-for list before her official identification as a victim. Three people remain on the list.

The age of the victims varied

The victims ranged in age from 7 to 97, but more than two-thirds were in their 60s or older, according to Maui police’s list of known victims. Several were residents of a low-income senior apartment complex.

Authorities began reopening the burn zone last fall to residents and property owners who lost homes while urging returning residents not to sift through the ashes for fear of raising toxic dust.

This month, crews started clearing debris from residential lots. The waste is being wrapped in thick industrial plastic before the Army Corps of Engineers takes it to a temporary storage site south of Lahaina.

The disaster devastated Maui and Hawaii more broadly. Caught in a hellscape, some residents died in their cars, while others jumped into the ocean or tried to run for safety.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It may have been sparked by downed power lines that ignited dry, invasive grasses. An AP investigation found the answer may lie in an overgrown gully beneath Hawaiian Electric Co. power lines and something that harbored smoldering embers from an initial fire that burned in the morning and then rekindled in high winds that afternoon.

The blaze destroyed more than 2,000 buildings, most of them homes, and is estimated to have caused $5.5 billion in damage.

Nearly six months after the blaze, about 5,000 displaced residents were still living in hotels or other short-term accommodations around Maui. Economists have warned that without zoning and other changes, housing costs in already expensive Lahaina could be prohibitively costly for many after rebuilding.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

emergency lights generic...

Associated Press

2 children were killed when a hillside collapsed along a Northern California river

Two children were killed when a hillside collapsed along a river in Northern California, which has been hit by a series of winter storms.

3 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event J...

Gregory Krieg, CNN

Trump will win South Carolina primary, CNN projects, as he closes in on the Republican nomination

Former President Donald Trump will win South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, CNN projects, further tightening his grip on the nomination and leaving his last remaining major rival Nikki Haley to consider her dwindling options.

6 hours ago

A paddle boarder tows an inflatable unicorn on a temporary lake in Death Valley on Thursday, Feb. 2...

Ty O'Neil, John Locher and Stefanie Dazio

Kayakers paddle in Death Valley after rains replenish lake in one of Earth’s driest spots

Kayakers have been paddling in one of the driest places on Earth after a series of storms battered California’s Death Valley and replenished Lake Manly.

13 hours ago

(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Toyota recalls 280,000 pickups and SUVs because transmissions can deliver power even when in neutral

The recall is to fix a transmission problem that can let the vehicles creep forward while in neutral.

1 day ago

The defendants are accused of stealing software used to train Apache helicopter pilots....

Haley Britzky and Sharif Paget, CNN

2 National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in Mississippi

Two National Guard members died after a helicopter crashed Friday afternoon during a training flight in northeast Mississippi.

1 day ago

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 photo, containers holding frozen embryos and sperm are stored ...

Associated Press

Facing backlash over IVF ruling, Alabama lawmakers look for a fix

Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused services in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Hawaii officials identify the last of the 100 known victims of the wildfire that destroyed Lahaina