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Some people say they’re baffled after their names are included on list of Maui wildfire missing

Maui County released the names of 388 people missing following the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, some of which were being resolved Friday as relatives or people themselves reported they were safe.

Three people on the list told The Associated Press they were alive and well and confused or disappointed to be there. At least two others were among the victims of the fire, people who are known to have died but the official death toll has yet to be confirmed, which now stands at 115.

Terry Thomas was killed when his car caught fire as he fled his apartment with his two dogs and two friends, said his cousin Tammy Cruz of Columbus, Ga. The car got stuck in a traffic jam and only one of the friends escaped. She later told Cruz that Thomas was crying hysterically when she last saw him, the car heating up by the second.

Cruz said Friday that Thomas’ niece provided a DNA swab to help identify his remains, but the family had not been notified of his death.

“His dogs meant the world to him,” Cruz said. “I knew he wouldn’t leave his dogs behind.”

The 388 names were part of a broader list of up to 1,100 missing persons that the FBI said earlier this week it was working to validate. Maui County says the newly released list includes those whose first and last names are as well as verified contact information for the person who reported them missing.

WATCH |: The names of those missing as a result of the Maui fire are known, the damage to the environment is being assessed.

Lawsuit blames downed power lines for Maui wildfires

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Hawaiian Electric Company in the wake of the wildfires raging in Maui. The lawsuit alleges that the power company “chose not to de-energize power lines” during weather warnings.

“When those names come out, it can be painful for the people whose loved ones are named,” Police Chief John Pelletier said late Thursday at their release. “It’s not an easy thing to do, but we want to make sure we do everything we can to make this investigation as complete and thorough as possible.”

Officials asked anyone who knows someone on the list to contact authorities.

County and police officials did not immediately provide information on how many cases were resolved after the list was released, but it appeared to help reduce the number. Facebook commenters said they knew of more than two dozen people who were safe and sound.

“I would like to be removed from the list”

Heidi Mazur of Lahaina told the AP she was disappointed to be on the list after being active on Facebook and starting an online fundraiser after the fire.

“They’ll find me in New York in a minute if I don’t pay my car registration or taxes, but they can’t seem to find me in a disaster here in Lahaina.” he said through Facebook Messenger.

Malama Kai Watson, 40, was not in Lahaina the day of the fires, but on the other side of the island. Given the poor state of communication and his inability to contact some close friends and relatives, he realized when he first appeared on a public Facebook list of missing persons. But he was quickly listed as found after he was able to contact his loved ones.

WATCH |: Lawsuit blames downed power lines for Maui wildfires;

Rescuers on Maui are haunted by the sights and smells of wildfire aftermath

Days of searching through the debris for victims of Maui’s deadly wildfires take a physical and emotional toll on emergency workers. Some say they can’t sleep after the terrifying images they see.

Watson was confused about being on the new, more official list. The FBI listed him as “Malama K. Watson.” He called the bureau to say it was safe, but saw no change online Friday.

“Now that’s annoying,” he said. “There are people out there who are definitely missing. You have to pay attention to the people who have yet to be found.”

Seth Alberico, a soccer coach from Bay Area, Calif., said he and his daughter, Kalia, had previously been on an unofficial, compiled list, but he didn’t realize they were also on the new “vetted” list until the AP told him. :

“I would like to be removed from the list,” he said. “We are both safe.”

At the time of the Aug. 8 fire, Alberico was living in an apartment not far from the area that burned in Kaanapali Beach. The former player knew he had been to Maui and knew he had a daughter, and he reported them missing when he couldn’t reach her on Facebook afterward, he said. His daughter was not even with him, he said.

He said he sent messages on Facebook and Instagram in an attempt to get himself removed from the list, but to no avail.

Crews are searching for remains

As of Thursday afternoon, another 1,732 people were reported safe, officials said.

Crews are searching for remains in the ashes of destroyed businesses and multi-story residential buildings.

The affected area is about 85 percent cleared, but the search will take weeks to complete because many of the last structures present difficult challenges, said U.S. Army Col. David Fielder, deputy commander of the joint wildfire response task force. press conference on Friday.

An aerial view shows vehicles and buildings completely destroyed by wildfires.
A general view shows the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii on Tuesday, two weeks after the deadliest US wildfire in more than a century engulfed the island community of Maui. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Dozens of searchers were also combing the 6.4 kilometer stretch of water for signs of those who may have died after climbing over the sea wall in an attempt to escape the flames and black smoke engulfing the city centre.

Earlier in the week, officials asked relatives of people still missing to come forward and provide DNA samples to identify the remains, promising that the samples would not be entered into a law enforcement database or otherwise used. At the time, DNA was collected from just 104 families, which officials described as a worryingly low number.

Maui Attorney Andrew Martin, who runs the family support center, said there has been a slight increase in sample donations since then.

“We’re still not where we really want to be in terms of numbers,” he said.

Among the many reasons people are wavering is a “historical and generational distrust of government,” Martin said, referring to the sentiment behind the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.

As of Thursday, officials have notified the families of 35 victims who have been identified, but relatives of 11 more have not been located or notified. The identities of the eight victims released Thursday included a family of four whose remains were found in a burned-out car outside their home; seven-year-old Tony Takafua; his mother, Salote Ton, 39; and his grandparents, Faoso Tone, 70, and Maluifonua Tone, 73.

WATCH |: The rescuers are being chased by sights, there is a smell due to forest fires.

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