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PHOTO GALLERY: A look at Lahaina in the 6 months since a wildfire destroyed the Maui town

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LAHAINA, Hawaii (鶹ýapp) — It’s been six months since a wildfire leveled most of Lahaina, a centuries-old town on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Authorities say 100 people were killed and three are still missing from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

Nearly 5,000 residents who lost their homes in the blaze are still living in hotels. An acute housing shortage on Maui means they can’t find places to live, even with rental assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or private charities.

FILE - Photos of victims are displayed under white crosses at a memorial for victims of the August 2023 wildfire, above the Lahaina Bypass highway, Dec. 6, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson, File)
Photos of victims are displayed under white crosses at a memorial for victims of the August 2023 wildfire, above the Lahaina Bypass highway, Dec. 6, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson, File)
FILE - Rev. Ai Hironaka, resident minister of the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, walks through the grounds of his temple and residence destroyed by wildfire, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson, File)
Rev. Ai Hironaka, resident minister of the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, walks through the grounds of his temple and residence destroyed by wildfire, Dec. 7, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson, File)

Gov. Josh Green is pushing owners of Maui’s many vacation rentals to house displaced Lahaina residents so all evacuees can move into long-term housing by March 1. He’s also proposed a “tax amnesty” to encourage vacation rental owners to rent to residents. Maui County has adopted tax incentives with the same aim.

“The lack of stable housing has obviously been a very major source of anxiety for our displaced residents, especially for our families with children,” Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said at a news conference Thursday.

Brandon Rabang, whose mother Sharlene Rabang, 78, was named as the 100th victim of the August wildfires in Lahaina, poses for a photo with her ashes Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, in Kahului, Hawaii. Sharlene's family fought to have her listed as a victim due to smoke inhalation after she died weeks after fleeing the fire. "Me and my mom was really close, we talked multiple times a day," Rabang said. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson)
Brandon Rabang, whose mother Sharlene Rabang, 78, was named as the 100th victim of the August wildfires in Lahaina, poses for a photo with her ashes Dec. 8, 2023, in Kahului, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson)
FILE - Volunteers make food, bottle water and supply deliveries to elderly residents impacted by a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 19, 2023. (APPhoto/Jae C. Hong, File)
Volunteers make food, bottle water and supply deliveries to elderly residents impacted by a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 19, 2023. (APPhoto/Jae C. Hong, File)

Bissen said housing issues have compounded the trauma of the fire for many residents and led to depression. He said mental health counseling was available at no cost.

Maui’s economy heavily depends on tourists, who have returned to the Lahaina area though some workers have struggled to attend to them while recovering from the disaster. Longer term, some worry that a redeveloped Lahaina will be too expensive for many Native Hawaiians and local-born residents and that they may have to leave their hometown.

FILE - Leis and flowers adorn crosses at a memorial for victims of the August wildfire above the Lahaina Bypass highway, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson, File)
Leis and flowers adorn crosses at a memorial for victims of the August wildfire above the Lahaina Bypass highway, Dec. 6, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (APPhoto/Lindsey Wasson, File)
FILE - Lahaina, Hawaii, residents, who are affected by a deadly wildfire that devastated the community, hug one another after a news conference in Lahaina, Hawaii, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. (APPhoto/Jae C. Hong, File)
Lahaina, Hawaii, residents, who are affected by a deadly wildfire that devastated the community, hug one another after a news conference in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 18, 2023. (APPhoto/Jae C. Hong, File)

Authorities are still studying what sparked the fire but an APinvestigation found it may have started in an overgrown gully beneath Hawaiian Electric Co. power lines. Hurricane-force winds, severe drought and invasive grasses combined to fuel the blaze. Scientists say climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events of the kind that fed the inferno.