Wildfires scorching in Hawaii have prompted evacuations in several communities as firefighters struggled to combat the wind-fueled flames that have burned several structures and caused widespread power outages.

Fire crews in Maui County were battling several blazes Tuesday as winds from Hurricane Dora, which is traveling at a safe distance about 500 miles south of the islands, toppled power lines and grounded firefighting helicopters. 

The fires have already destroyed several homes and burned parts of one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist areas in historic Lahaina. Phone service and 911 lines are also reportedly down in western Maui after fires disrupted cell towers there.

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The state’s acting governor has issued a state of emergency on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, who is traveling.

“We are closely following the wildfires caused by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora,” said Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke. “The safety of our residents is paramount, and this emergency proclamation will activate the Hawai’i National Guard to support emergency responders in the impacted communities.” 

The state’s largest electric provider said about 13,000 customers in Maui were without power Tuesday night after winds gusting over 60 mph toppled trees and power lines. As of Wednesday morning, that number was bumped up to 14,500, according to poweroutage.us.

The Coast Guard has responded to some areas where residents have entered the ocean to flee the smoke and fire conditions, according to the Maui County mayor’s office. One firefighter responding to a fire in West Maui was also taken to the hospital due to smoke inhalation.

The National Weather Service issued high wind and red flag warnings but conditions were expected to decrease throughout the day Wednesday and into Thursday. 

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