Bezos, Sanchez pledge $100 mn to help Hawaii recover from wildfire

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

San Francisco, August 12 (IANS): Billionaire Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez have announced a $100 million fund to help with recovery efforts for the wildfires in Maui, Hawaii.

Eighty people were confirmed to have been killed by wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui, according to officials, making it the deadliest natural disaster in the state's history.

In an Instagram post late on Friday, Sanchez wrote that they "are creating a Maui Fund and are dedicating $100 million to help Maui get back on its feet now and over the coming years as the continuing needs reveal themselves".

"Jeff and I are heartbroken by what's happening in Maui. We are thinking of all the families that have lost so much and a community that has been left devastated.

The immediate needs are important, and so is the longer term rebuilding that will have to happen - even after much of the attention has subsided," she added.

According to earlier reports, Bezos purchased a 14-acre estate on La Perouse Bay for an estimated $78 million last year. The bay is less than 20 miles south of fires in South Maui.

In May, Bezos, 59, and Sanchez, 53, got engaged and threw engagement parties. They started dating in 2018 and reportedly went public with their relationship after the Amazon billionaire divorced his first wife MacKenzie Scott in 2019.

Meanwhile, West Maui, where Lahaina is located, is still without power and water. Search crews are still in the area looking for wildfire victims.

More than 1,000 buildings had been destroyed in Lahaina, a coastal town with a rich history that attracts some two million tourists a year.

Wildfires on Hawaii's Maui island and Big Island began on Tuesday night. The cause is still not known but once lit, hurricane winds and dry weather helped fuel the flames.