Teams search the smoldering ruins of Lahaina, Maui, for human remains following a devastating wildfire that tore through the city on Aug. 8. Photo by Dominick Del Vecchio/FEMA/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Authorities in Hawaii released a list naming 388 people who remain missing in Maui as part of a new strategy to identify victims, as well as survivors, more than two weeks after a deadly fire ravaged the island.
The list, compiled and validated by the FBI, was released in an effort to help emergency personnel identify those who were still unaccounted for as search teams continued to comb the smoldering ashes of Lahaina for bodies as the death toll stood at 115.
So far, 35 victims have been positively identified and their families notified, while 11 others were identified but their families have not yet been located, officials said.
Meanwhile, federal investigators verified the first and last names of individuals on the list, along with the phone number of the person who reported them missing.
Officials were still trying to validate information for hundreds of others reported missing, but could not immediately say when those names would be made public.
On Friday, Hawaii Gov. John Green announced the last evacuation shelter for people displaced by the fires was closed down. The evacuees were moved to hotels, vacation rentals or other living accommodations.
Hawaii News Now reported more than 5,000 displaced people are in hotels and housing across the island.
"We want to thank our partners at the American Red Cross, FEMA, the hotel industry and Airbnb for stepping up during this unprecedented tragedy," Green said.
"Only together can we rise up, recover and bring healing to the Lahaina community."
Also Thursday, the Maui Police Department released the names of eight more victims in the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history that erupted on Aug. 8, burning thousands of homes and businesses to the ground, and leaving a crush of residents homeless.
The deceased were identified as: Todd Nakamura, 61; Bernard Portabes, 75; Tony Takafua, 7; Salote Tone, 39; Faaoso Tone, 70; Maluifonua Tone, 73; Bette Jo Dyckman, 73; and Rebecca Rans, 57, who were all residents of Lahaina.
The partial list of missing persons comes as perhaps as many as 1,000 islanders remained unaccounted for, county officials said earlier this week, while pledging an extensive search for victims and a complete investigation into the cause of the fire, which was still smoldering in some areas.
The Olinda fire was 85% contained after burning more than 1,000 acres, as firefighters used a helicopter to drop water on hot spots from the air.
The Kula fire, meanwhile, was 90% contained after consuming about 202 acres, while intermittent flareups frustrated efforts by firefighters to put out the flames.
The Lahaina fire was 90% contained with about 2,170 acres burned, while the Pulehu/Kihei fire was extinguished on Aug. 12.
Also Thursday, Maui County sued Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. and its subsidiaries, including Maui Electric Co., claiming negligence led to the blaze that caused an estimated $5.5 billion in damage.
Meanwhile, crews sifting through the devastation with cadaver dogs on Thursday wrapped up searches of one-story homes and businesses in Lahaina, and moved to searching multi-story structures that collapsed in the blaze.
In one glimmer of hope, about 1,732 people who were initially reported missing in the aftermath of the inferno have since been located, Maui County officials said Thursday.
Emergency officials acknowledged that some people on the list likely perished in the flames, but they also remained hopeful that many were still alive and just hadn't checked in yet with family and recovery teams.
"We're releasing this list of 388 names because we know it will help the investigation," Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said in a video message posted online Thursday. "We're also balancing that because we know when this list comes out, it can and will cause pain for some folks."
The Maui Police Department called on the public to come forward with information if a person named on the list was known to be alive and safe, and to alert authorities to those who remain missing but whose names were not listed.
The list was posted online at www.mauinuistrong.info/unaccountedfor.
The FBI asked the public to call (808) 566-4300 or email [email protected] with information that may help locate persons on the list.