The wildfires that have killed at least 55 in Maui are burning on an island that also contains the part-time homes of billionaires, including Oprah Winfrey, Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos.
The presence of celebrities and tech executives on the island has in the past created tension with locals. Few of the high-profile owners have commented publicly on the status of their homes during the fire crisis.
Representatives for Ms. Winfrey, who has lived in Maui part-time for more than 15 years, did not respond to a request for comment. According to Architectural Digest, her portfolio of roughly 1,000 acres on the island includes 870 acres in Kula, an area southeast of Lahaina where firefighting efforts were underway on Thursday. During brush fires in 2019, she gave Maui County access to a private road on the property to assist with evacuations.
The seclusion and natural beauty of Maui have long attracted celebrities, including Steven Tyler, Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson and Jim Carrey. It has also drawn a suite of tech executives, who have purchased some of the most expensive properties on the island.
In 2011, Thiel, the founder of Pay Pal, paid $27 million for a home in Makena, on the southwest coast of Maui, which The Wall Street Journal reported was then the most expensive purchase of a single-family home in the county. Makena is roughly 10 miles from fires burning in South Maui.
Last year, the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men on Earth, purchased a 14-acre estate on La Perouse Bay for an estimated $78 million. The bay is less than 20 miles south of fires in South Maui.
Mr. Bezos’s partner, Lauren Sánchez, posted on Threads, a new messaging app linked to Instagram, that the wildfires were “beyond heartbreaking.” She wrote that “Jeff and I have been on the phone with local residents and officials, and will be making donations to help.”
In 2012, the Oracle executive Larry Ellison bought 98 percent of Lanai, a Maui County island where Bill and Melinda Gates were married in 1994. Lanai does not currently appear to have been damaged by the blaze.
Mick Fleetwood, the drummer for the band Fleetwood Mac, said in a statement posted on Facebook that the restaurant he owned in Lahaina had been destroyed. He did not respond to a request for comment on the status of his home, which is also in West Maui.
“Maui and the Lahaina community have been my home for several decades,” he wrote. “This is a devastating moment for Maui, and many are suffering unimaginable loss.”