Last week, a fire was ignited that quickly spread and leveled Maui, Hawaii. It is still unclear what caused the fire, but officials now know why it has spread rapidly. Hawaii, the prime vacation spot known for its beaches and tropical weather, is well into the summer. The dry, hot climate of the state has made Maui susceptible to fire. Countless celebrities have visited the devastated families, including Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah, the billionaire television icon, came to visit a shelter full of the victims of the fire. Early this week, the media mogul came with a crew from CBS to the War Memorial Complex in Waikuku to visit the victims of the fires. However, she was allegedly turned away by the shelter’s officials.
Oprah Winfrey is just one of the many Hollywood celebrities who have lent their support to the survivors of the Maui wildfires. And she came to a shelter for victims with her CBS News crew to presumably talk to some of the survivors and ask how they were doing and what she can do to help. But news started going viral that she was turned away by the people managing the center.
This was highly damaging and completely false, according to the local government which was in charge of rehabilitating the survivors in Maui. The County of Maui has since issued a statement falsifying the rumors.
Local Government Issues Statement About Oprah
The whole statement reads, “To clarify, Oprah was able to visit our shelter and we thank her for instructing media journalists and camera crews to remain outside. We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to the victims of the tragic disaster. Her visit inside of the shelter today was truly heartwarming and we appreciate her understanding of our policy of having no camera crews or reporters accompanying dignitaries and celebrities in our emergency shelters. Out of respect for those who have come to seek safety and shelter at emergency shelters, our policy remains that no media is given access.”
Winfrey herself has property on the island and is a part-time resident of Maui. Her visit to the shelter, though she was accompanied by a news crew, was mainly to talk to the victims and ask how she can help. She is not new to helping victims of natural disasters, after all.
Experts say that the Maui fires are the worst in over a century. It’s not the biggest, compared to the California wildfires a couple of years ago, but it is the deadliest. As of Monday, the casualty count has risen to 99 people, but there are still more than a thousand unaccounted for.
The reason behind the fires is yet to be discovered, but people have a theory on why it was so devastating. According to the eyewitnesses, people didn’t have enough time to evacuate. The summer winds in Maui helped the fires spread faster, coming from the grasslands down into residential areas. The winds also posed a challenge for firefighters to quench the flames and begin rescue operations. As of writing, officials are continuing their search and rescue operations on Maui.