World

Heart of Hawaiian town burned by wildfire reopens to residents

Reverend Ai Hironaka, resident minister of the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, takes off protective equipment after walking through his temple (Lindsey Wasson/AP)
Reverend Ai Hironaka, resident minister of the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, takes off protective equipment after walking through his temple (Lindsey Wasson/AP)

The heart of Lahaina, the town on the Hawaiian island of Maui hit by a wildfire in August that killed at least 100 people, reopened on Monday to residents and business owners holding day passes.

Work remains to be done to safely clear properties of burned debris and rebuild.

The reopened areas include Banyan Tree Park, home to a 150-year-old tree that burned in the fire but that is now sprouting new leaves, Lahaina’s public library, an elementary school and restaurants.

Hawaii Wildfire
Reverend Ai Hironaka, resident minister of the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, takes off protective equipment after walking through his temple (Lindsey Wasson/AP)

An oceanfront section of Front Street, where the fire ripped through a traffic jam of cars trying to escape town, reopened on Friday.

People entering scorched lots are advised to wear protective gear to shield them from hazards.

Test results released by the state Department of Health on Sunday confirmed the ash and dust left by the fire is toxic and that arsenic is the biggest concern while samples also showed high levels of lead.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been removing batteries, propane tanks, pesticides and other hazards from more than 2,000 destroyed buildings ahead of residents and business owners being able to visit their properties.

The US Army Corps of Engineers will begin hauling away the remaining debris and take it to a landfill after it gets permission from property owners.