The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that a tragic scene unfolded in Maui, when people who had chosen to drive around a road barricade blocking the lone paved road from Lahaina as fires raged earlier this month experienced an unfortunate outcome.
Those who chose to obey the barricade and remain at the scene reportedly perished in their cars or attempted to flee into the nearby ocean.
Screen image from drone video by Davin Phelps.
I don’t want to feed ridiculous conspiracies but all I can do is tell you the truth. I just spoke to a videographer from Lahaina. Davin Phelps. He’s a licensed drone pilot. He’s been flying over Lahaina for the past week. And he has stunning and haunting images of Lahaina. pic.twitter.com/zPNa6JEVt0
— Will Cain (@willcain) August 22, 2023
A satellite image captured the night of the fire revealed that nearly the entirety of Lahaina was engulfed in flames.
This image captured by the Landsat 8 satellite on Aug. 8 shows how flames engulfed large parts of Lahaina. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Lauren Dauphin)
CBS News recently posted a video report providing a rare perspective on the difficult conditions along Front Street (warning: graphic content).
This on-the-ground footage offers viewers an insight into the harsh reality within this area.
“Dead bodies on the rocks on the beach, bodies in the car…pets, cats, dogs, just all burnt right in the middle of the road”: This is what Maui’s historic town of Lahaina was like as a deadly wildfire raged through. https://t.co/b6yFCnYOYZ pic.twitter.com/o4h5ELOjyg
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 18, 2023
The Associated Press recently published a comprehensive report, the details of which are accompanied by an individual’s poignant story of defying governmental regulations to survive.
As flames tore through a West Maui neighborhood, car after car of fleeing residents headed for the only paved road out of town in a desperate race for safety.
And car after car was turned back toward the rapidly spreading wildfire by a barricade blocking access to Highway 30.
One family swerved around the barricade and was safe in a nearby town 48 minutes later, another drove their 4-wheel-drive car down a dirt road to escape. One man took an dirt road uphill, climbing above the fire and watching as Lahaina burned. He later picked his way through the flames, smoke and rubble to pull survivors to safety.
But dozens of others found themselves caught in a hellscape, their cars jammed together on a narrow road, surrounded by flames on three sides and the rocky ocean waves on the fourth. Some died in their cars, while others tried to run for safety.
,,,Kim Cuevas-Reyes narrowly escapes with her 12- and 15-year-old by ignoring instructions to turn right on Front Street toward Lahaina’s Civic Center, which earlier in the day had been turned into a shelter for refugees. Instead, she takes a left, driving in the wrong lane to pass a stack of cars heading in the other direction.
“The gridlock would have left us there when the firestorm came,” said Cuevas-Reyes, 38. “I would have had to tell my children to jump into the ocean as well and be boiled alive by the flames or we would have just died from smoke inhalation and roasted in the car.”
The Los Angeles Times recently released an interactive timeline on the devastating fire that took place in California.
The timeline provides a comprehensive overview of the event, including survivor’s tales of disregarding orders to survive.
However, one survivor was left with feelings of grief and sorrow due to his inability to save his neighbors’ children who he believes could have been saved had they been given an early warning from the government:
Baird’s neighborhood near Lahainaluna Road was filled with kids who were home alone when the flames hit, he said.
“We needed like 10 more minutes, and we could have saved a lot of kids,” he said, choking back tears. “If we’d just had like a 10- or 15-minute warning.”
The family ventured out to a Kahului mall recently, looking for a moment of normalcy in the aftermath of the tragedy. They ran into a playmate of their son.
“The kids just don’t have a filter. So their son ran up and was just telling our son, you know, ‘This kid is dead. This kid is dead.’ And it’s like, all my son’s friends that they come to our house every day,” he said. “And their parents were at work, and they were home alone. And nobody had a warning. Nobody, nobody, nobody knew.”
The government has yet to confirm the exact number of children casualties in the devastating fire that claimed over one hundred lives and left approximately one thousand unaccounted for.
Thousands of homes, apartment buildings, and other structures have been destroyed in its wake.
Combined Joint Task Force 50 search, rescue and recovery elements conduct search operations of areas damaged by wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, Aug. 15, 2023. Members of CJTF-50 from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, Army active duty and Reserve are actively supporting Maui County authorities to provide immediate security, safety and well-being to those affected by the wildfires to ensure unwavering support for the community of Maui and first responders. Photo By:
Army Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Foster