In deadly Maui fires, many had no warning and no way out. Those who dodged a barricade survived
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Associated Press
Posted: September 3rd, 2023
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 four-wheel-drive car down a dirt road to escape. One man took a 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. The road closures — some because of the fire, some because of downed power lines — contributed to making historic Lahaina the site of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. Many of the survivors are angry, and haunted by the thought that a just few minutes of notice could have saved many lives. [Nate] 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.”
Note: Despite years of Maui wildfire warnings, Hawaii government officials and Hawaiian Electric did little to address the wildfire threat, spending more on lobbying and peddling influence with regulators and politicians than preventing the fires from happening. For further exploration, watch Robert Kennedy Jr. and former leading BlackRock portfolio manager Edward Dowd discuss this tragic issue.