Managers of a senior living complex in Maui where at least three elderly people died in the wildfires say some residents who perished may have chosen not to evacuate after authorities said the fires were ‘100% contained’.

Four residents of Hale Mahaolu Eono, a retirement complex that was destroyed in the disaster, stayed behind while their neighbors fled as fires swept across Lahaina last Tuesday, killing at least 111 people.

Officials have so far only identified five of the 111 people who perished in the disaster. Two of those – Buddy Jantoc, 79, and Virginia Dofa, 90 – lived in Hale Mahaolu Eono.

A third victim, Joseph Schilling, 67, was also a resident. Schilling, who has not been named by authorities but was confirmed as a victim by his family, died while helping others evacuate the housing complex.

The claim some may have stayed behind due to confusing messaging will increase scrutiny on authorities who are accused of failing to give proper warnings about the incoming danger. An investigation is underway into the cause of the fires, and the response, but the state’s governor has said it is not criminal.

Joseph Schilling, 67, died while helping others evacuate the Hale Mahaolu Eono housing complex, his family said

Joseph Schilling, 67, died while helping others evacuate the Hale Mahaolu Eono housing complex, his family said

Virginia Dofa, 90 pictured left in a missing persons poster after the fires, lived in Hale Mahaolu Eono. Officials have since said she died in the fires

Virginia Dofa, 90 pictured left in a missing persons poster after the fires, lived in Hale Mahaolu Eono. Officials have since said she died in the fires

Buddy Jantoc, 79, another resident of the complex, also passed away. Managers at Hale Mahaolu Eono say some residents who perished may have chosen not to evacuate after authorities said the fires were '100% contained'

Buddy Jantoc, 79, another resident of the complex, also passed away. Managers at Hale Mahaolu Eono say some residents who perished may have chosen not to evacuate after authorities said the fires were ‘100% contained’

Four residents of Hale Mahaolu Eono, a retirement complex that was destroyed in the disaster, stayed behind while their neighbors fled as fires swept across Lahaina last Tuesday, killing at least 111 people

Four residents of Hale Mahaolu Eono, a retirement complex that was destroyed in the disaster, stayed behind while their neighbors fled as fires swept across Lahaina last Tuesday, killing at least 111 people

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has ordered the state’s attorney general, Anne Lopez, to perform a ‘comprehensive review’ of what caused the fire and the subsequent response, including claims that there were not adequate warnings.

But he has since said the probe is ‘not a criminal investigation in any way’.

The fire which swept across Maui is believed to have started shortly before 7am on Tuesday, August 8. Authorities had said at 9am that it was ‘100% contained’, but a flareup several hours later spiraled out of control.

Maui residents have also claimed that warning systems failed to alert them about the danger even as their homes were engulfed.

A statement from Hale Mahaolu Eono on Thursday said that while many residents had evacuated the complex in Lahaina by 11.30am – after managers took a decision to leave despite the lack of an official warning – four chose to stay. 

‘We don’t fully know the reasons those four residents remained,’ the statement said. ‘They may have decided to stay because they heard warnings in previous years that didn’t result in this level of devastation.

‘They may also have heard the news that Maui officials declared the fire ‘100% contained’. 

Grant Chun, Hale Mahaolu executive director, added: ‘We are deeply saddened by reports of the passing of Hale Mahaolu tenants in the recent wildfires in Maui. 

An aerial view of Lahaina shows the sheer scale of destruction that the wildfires have caused in Hawaii

An aerial view of Lahaina shows the sheer scale of destruction that the wildfires have caused in Hawaii

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has ordered the state's attorney general, Anne Lopez, to perform a 'comprehensive review' of what caused the fire and the subsequent response but he has since said the probe is 'not a criminal investigation in any way'

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has ordered the state’s attorney general, Anne Lopez, to perform a ‘comprehensive review’ of what caused the fire and the subsequent response but he has since said the probe is ‘not a criminal investigation in any way’

‘Our thoughts and condolences are with their family and loved ones. The safety of our tenants has always been our foremost priority. We are here to provide any necessary assistance and support during this difficult time.’

Several lawsuits have already been filed against Hawaiian Electric, the utility company which provides power to the island.

The suits allege that the company could be responsible after it failed to switch of power to lines which were damaged by a passing hurricane and may have sparked the fires.

The death toll was updated on Wednesday to 111, although officials say that number is likely to rise significantly as search operations continue. There are fears that many of the dead could be children.

The other three victims named by authorities are Robert Dyckman, 74, Melva Benjamin, 71, and Alfredo Galinato, 79.

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