Nearly 400 people were on the police department’s credible missing persons list from the fire, but now only three people are left.
The last of the 100 known victims who perished in the fire that destroyed most of Lahaina on Aug. 8 was identified Friday by the Maui Police Department as 70-year-old Lydia Coloma.
Coloma had been on the police department’s “credible missing persons list” from the fire, which in late August included 388 people. There now are three people left on that list: Paul Kasprzycki, Robert H. Owens and Elmer Lee Stevens.
Coloma, who worked at Foodland, was the ninth member of a Filipino family who lived in Lahaina to be confirmed dead in the wildfire. The others were her husband, Salvador Coloma, 77; Felimon Quijano, 61; Luz Bernabe, 64; Joel Villegas, 55; Adela Villegas, 53; Angelica Baclig, 31; Junmark Quijano, 30; and Glenda Yabes, 48.
It was an arduous process to find the remains of the fire victims, with more than 40 cadaver dogs meticulously searching through the ash and rubble of the five-mile burn area. Forensic experts spent months working to identify those remains, most badly burned, through DNA, dental records and other methods.
Officials had put the death toll as high as 115, but DNA testing found that some of the remains were fragmented or commingled and on Sept. 15 the number was revised to 97. The number rose to 100 with two people identified as dying from their fire-related injuries and the discovery of an additional person’s remains on Oct. 12.
“MPD and assisting partners have been working tirelessly to ensure that proper protocols are followed while notifying the families of the victims involved,” Maui police said in a news release. “Our priority is to handle this situation with the utmost sensitivity and respect for those who are grieving.”
Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.
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