After Maui officials named 388 people unaccounted for in fires, many called to say they’re OK

BY REBECCA BOONE, GENE JOHNSON, BEATRICE DUPUY AND JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER

HONOLULU (AP) — Within a day of Maui County releasing 388 names of people unaccounted for following the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, more than 100 of them or their relatives came forward to say they’re safe, the FBI said Friday.

The agency is reviewing the information they provided and working to remove the names from the list.

“We’re very thankful for the people who have reached out by phone or email,” Steven Merrill, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Honolulu, said in a news conference. “As we get someone off of a list, this has enabled us to devote more resources to those who are still on the list.”

Several people on the list told The Associated Press earlier in the day that they are alive and well, with a few also saying they were confused or frustrated to be on it. At least two others were among the victims of the fire — people who are known to have perished but have not yet been positively identified as deceased in the official tally, which currently stands at 115.

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Arturo Gonzalez Hernandez wound up on the list even though he moved away from Lahaina, the historic seaside community demolished in the blaze, three years ago, and he called the FBI on Friday to provide his name and birthdate. An inaccurate list could cause unnecessary stress, he said.

“Some people are still struggling with the impact of so many people dying,” said Gonzalez, who now lives up the coast near Kapalua.

Terrí Thomas was killed when fire overtook her car as she fled from her apartment with her two dogs and two friends, said her cousin, Tammy Cruz, of Columbus, Georgia. The car became stuck in traffic and only one of the friends escaped. He later told Cruz that Thomas was crying hysterically when he last saw her, the car growing hotter by the second.

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