A trio from the FBI’s Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team (USERT) began probing waters off-shore from Lahaina today, using specialized equipment to continue the investigation into the deadly wildfire that decimated the West Maui town on Aug. 8.
The team conducted underwater searches aboard the Kai ‘Aiki, a boat operated by the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
Specialized equipment is being used to pick up any belongings or identifiable items to assist in the continuing effort to identify people who remain unaccounted for, from the fire which leveled most of the town.
Simultaneously, expert divers from the US Navy were concluding their two-day long mission. Late last week, snorkelers from the Maui Fire Department finished searching along the coastline from Puamana Beach Park to Wahikuli Wayside Park as part of the coordinated search and recovery effort.
A team of DOCARE officers also supported the MFD operation, by providing the Kai ‘Akiki to carry personnel and equipment and to serve as a resting platform for searchers.
DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “In a crisis, like the Lahaina tragedy, it truly is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Just as various federal agencies are helping, and in some cases, leading the recovery tasks in Lahaina, we will step up to provide whatever resources we can muster to complete a successful operation.”
“The FBI remains committed in providing our resources and expertise to bring closure to affected families of the Lahaina fire. USERT is comprised of highly trained FBI special agents tasked with searching for and recovering evidence underwater as the FBI continues to assist our law enforcement partners,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill in a DLNR news release. “We want the public to know that our federal, state, and local partners are doing their due diligence in leaving no stone unturned by seeing if USERT might be able to recover items and return them to the rightful owners.”
The FBI search is expected to be the final mission in the multipronged effort to try and account for any remaining victims of the fire, to provide their families some closure.