There have been all sorts of conspiracy theories circulating about the Lahaina wildfire on Hawaii last August. I've seen claims that over four hundred people had died or were "missing", and that this was being hidden because it would reflect badly on the mismanagement of the situation by local authorities. It was also claimed that homeowners were being forbidden access to their properties, so that they would be forced to pay mortgages in the absence of any insurance payout (which depends on assessors being allowed access to the insured property), and therefore forced to sell their burned-out land to those wanting to develop it.
It turns out those claims were overblown, to put it mildly.
Hawaii officials said Friday that they have identified the last of the 100 known victims of the wildfire that destroyed Lahaina in August.
That victim was Lydia Coloma, 70, Maui police said.
Identifying those who perished in the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century has been a long, arduous process.
Forensic experts and cadaver dogs have had to sift through ash searching for bodies that were possibly cremated, and authorities have been collecting DNA samples from victims’ family members.
. . .
The number of those who remain unaccounted for has also fallen — to just a few from a previous high of nearly 400, according to the Maui Police Department.
The victims ranged in age from 7 to 97, but more than two-thirds were in their 60s or older, according to Maui police’s list of known victims. Several were residents of a low-income senior apartment complex.
Authorities reopened the burn zone to residents and property owners who lost homes while urging returning residents not to sift through the ashes for fear of raising toxic dust.
Authorities began clearing debris from residential lots this month.
There's more at the link.
I think many people have little or no idea of how thoroughly a wildfire can destroy a property and its contents. I've seen it, up close and personal. Everything flammable - including human bodies - is reduced to ash and cinders, sometimes making it impossible to recognize a cadaver by sight alone. Many bodies will be completely hidden beneath a thin blanket of fine gray ash, which must be very carefully removed in order to reveal what's beneath it. Move too quickly and/or too aggressively, and whatever's beneath the ash will be removed along with it, or blown away by the wind, or dissolved by rain. There's no easy or quick way to do it - and the authorities were dealing with square miles of devastation, not just a house or two. I'm sure they did the best they could, but in reality there's simply no way to speed up the process over that great an expanse. That's why access to the area was restricted, because you can't look for bodies while families and insurance companies are trying to clear their properties and rebuild.
I wish conspiracy theorists were not so prevalent here in the USA. They destroy their own credibility by their stupid, unrealistic claims, but in the process they "poison the well", so that nobody believes anybody else. "You can't tell me I'm wrong! Prove it!" they chant, when challenged about their false claims - but they never bother to prove their claims, putting the onus to do that on those who challenge them. Another utterly stupid conspiracy theory doing the rounds at present is that the Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce romance is a re-election ploy by the Biden administration, an "election psy-op" being mounted with the active support of the NFL. How anybody can actually believe such drivel is beyond me . . . it defies logic, reason and sanity. Nevertheless, it's out there.
I have the deepest sympathy for those who lost loved ones and property in the Lahaina fire: and even deeper sympathy for those who've had to endure such conspiracy theorizing while coming to terms with the partial or complete destruction of their families, their plans for the future . . . everything. I wish it were possible to force the conspiracy theorists to pay a heavy monetary burden for the mental and emotional anguish they've inflicted on the survivors. Sadly, I don't think that will happen, but in simple justice, it should.