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    In Deadly Maui Wildfires, Communication Failed. Chaos Overtook Lahaina Along with the Flames

    In Deadly Maui Wildfires, Communication Failed. Chaos Overtook Lahaina Along with the Flames

    WAILUKU, Hawaii — In the hours before a wildfire engulfed the town of Lahaina, Maui County officials failed to activate sirens that would have warned the entire population of the approaching flames and instead relied on a series of sometimes confusing social media posts that reached a much smaller audience.

    and cellular outages for residents further stymied communication efforts. Radio reports were scarce, some survivors reported, even as the blaze began to consume the town. Road blocks then forced fleeing drivers onto one narrow downtown street, creating a bottleneck that was quickly surrounded by flames on all sides. At least 80 people have been confirmed dead so far.

    The silent sirens have raised questions about whether everything was done to alert the public in a state that possesses an elaborate emergency warning system for a variety of dangers including wars, volcanoes, hurricanes and wildfires.

    Hector Bermudez left his apartment at Lahaina Shores shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday after the smell of smoke woke him up from a nap. He asked his neighbor if he was also leaving.

    “He said, ‘No, I am waiting for the authorities to see what they are going to do,'” Bermudez recounted. “And I said, ‘No, no no, please go. This smoke is going to kill us. You have to go. Please. You gotta get out of here. Don't wait for nobody.'”

    His neighbor, who is about 70 and has difficulty walking, refused.

    Bermudez…

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