Bidens to View Hawaii Wildfires Damage

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are planning to visit Maui next Monday to get a firsthand look at the devastation left in the aftermath of last week’s wildfires that killed at least 106 people on the Hawaiian island, the White House announced Wednesday.

The Bidens plan to meet with survivors of the most devastating U.S. wildfires in more than 100 years, the White House said, as well as first responders and federal, state and local officials.

“I want to go and make sure we got everything they need,” Biden said Tuesday, while at the same time not impeding efforts to recover the remains of more victims. 

Many of the bodies found in the devastation on the Pacific Ocean island have been unrecognizable. Fingerprints have rarely been found, although 41 people with missing family members have given authorities DNA samples in case the bodies of relatives are discovered.

The wildfires, which at one point spread more than a kilometer every minute, all but destroyed the town of Lahaina, a popular beachside tourist destination.

Some Maui residents have complained that the national government has been slow to assist in the recovery effort, but the White House said Biden “continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires.”

The White House said Hawaii Governor Josh Green advised that the recovery effort is expected to be sufficiently far along by early next week to allow for a presidential visit.