Material to be applied in Maui burn zone to stop contaminated run-off

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LAHAINA, Hawaii — With more of the burn zone searched each day, the charred black earth and ash will soon turn pink as a “water-based glue” is applied to prevent winds and rain from kicking it up and running off into the ocean.

The biodegradable, non-toxic material known as a “soil tackifier” will begin being applied by workers for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency incident response team in the coming days, using water trucks that will spray the material from hoses, an official with the agency said.

The process will not begin until the search and rescue operation is deemed complete, said Steve Calanog, Incident Commander for EPA Region 9 which covers Hawaii. As of Friday night, about 78% of the burn zone had been searched, county officials said.

At least 114 people have been confirmed dead in the wind-fueled wildfire that swept across the historic town of Lahaina.