Officials in Maui have so far identified only five of the 106 people confirmed dead after last week’s wildfires, with the harrowing process made painstakingly difficult because of the damage caused to their remains.
Currently only two people have been named by authorities as victims – Robert Dyckman, 74, and Buddy Jantoc, 79. The names of the other three have not yet been disclosed, as work is still underway to inform their families.
Several more victims have been named by friends and relatives, although they are yet to be included in the official register.
The slow pace at which victims’ have been named highlights the difficulties faced by responders in identifying remains. Island officials have urged survivors who are missing relatives to provide DNA swabs to help with the process.
Work continued as more footage emerged on Wednesday which lays bare the ferocity of the fires that swept across Maui at speeds of up to one mile per minute.
A video recorded by tourists who took cover in a swimming pool to escape the fires shows huge flames engulf the buildings which surrounded them
A video recorded in Lahaina shows tourists take cover in a swimming pool that is surrounded by buildings engulfed in flames. Thick clouds of smoke billow around them, carried by gusts from the passing Hurricane Dora, which contributed to the disaster.
The intense heat was enough to melt cars that were consumed by the fires, officials have said.
Jantoc was living in the Hale Mahaolu Eono senior housing complex when the fires tore through the town of Lahaina. His family learned from police that his remains were among dozens found so far.
‘My papa was older, but for him to be taken from us that way, I think that’s what’s the hardest to come to terms with,’ granddaughter Keshia Alaka’i told KITV-TV. The family has also started a Facebook group dedicated to Jantoc.
Alaka’i said she talked with Jantoc almost every day.
‘(I’ll miss) his calls for the silly stuff. Buying things for him, ordering online because he didn’t know how to work it or you know, fighting with his iPhone because I had bought him a new one he didn’t know how to work that,’ she said.
One of the first people confirmed to be among the dead was Carole Hartley, 60, from Mobile, Alabama, who had lived in Lahaina for the last 36 years.
Hartley is not among the victims named by authorities and, like with others who have been named independently by friends and relatives, it’s not clear whether search teams have found her remains.
She died after becoming separated from her partner Charles Paxton, who managed to escape.
‘The fire came fast and they were loading a truck when the truck caught fire and exploded,’ a friend wrote on Facebook.
Carole Hartley, 60, from Alabama, was among the first known to have died in the wildfires
Hartley’s sister Donna said she was eagerly anticipating her retirement next year
‘Charles told Carole to run, run, run, and she did. It was noisy from the wind and fires and they got separated. Charles was found safe at a shelter and is now safe with friends in Wailuku.’
Another fondly-remembered victim was Franklin ‘Frankie’ Trejos, 68, who was described as a hero who died trying to help others and save his home.
He was found in the back of his car, his body covering that of his friend’s golden retriever, Sam, who he was trying to save.
Kika Perez Grant, his niece, told CNN they had received a call from Trejos’s roommate saying he was missing.
‘We kept hope alive but then his roommate called us again a few hours later to tell us he had found Uncle Frankie’s remains,’ she said.
Trejos and his roommate – retired fire captain Geoff Bogar – tried to save their property at first, but then decided to evacuate when they realized it was impossible.
‘They both got in their own cars and tried to evacuate,’ she said.
‘For some reason, his roommate’s car didn’t start, so he crawled around until someone found him. He got badly burned.’
Trejos was born in Costa Rica but moved to the United States at a young age, his niece said, and had lived in Lahaina for the last 30 years.
Franklin ‘Frankie’ Trejos, 68, died trying to shelter Sam, a golden retriever. Both was found dead inside a car
Clyde Wakida is pictured with his wife of 46 years, Penny. He died trying to save the house they built together 35 years ago
‘Uncle Frankie was a kind man, a nature lover, an animal lover and he loved his friends and his families with this whole heart,’ Perez Grant said.
Clyde Wakida’s death was announced by his wife of 46 years, Penny.
She said he died after remaining at the home they built together 35 years ago, and stayed in a desperate bid to save it.
She was contacted by officials to say they found human remains on the property, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Penny’s daughter, Lexa Hanohano, and Clyde’s sisters, Avis Wakida and Teri Young, are among people who provided DNA samples to help with the identification of remains.
‘He didn’t want to evacuate,’ said Penny.
‘He refused to come with me. He thought he could save the house. We know he’s dead.’
A family of four – Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, Salote Takafua, and her son, Tony Takafua – died while attempting to flee from the flames.
Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone were found dead in their car Thursday as they tried to escape the devastating blaze that destroyed virtually all of Lahaina
Also killed were Faaso and Malui’s adult daughter Salote Takafua and her son Tony
Their remains were found on Thursday in a burned car near their home.
‘The magnitude of our grief is indescribable,’ read a statement from family members.
Lylas Kanemoto, who knew the Tone family, confirmed the devastating news on Sunday.
‘At least we have closure for them, but the loss and heartbreak is unbearable for many. We as a community has to just embrace each other and support our families, friends, and our community to our best of our abilities,’ said Kanemoto.