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Maui fire survivors share heart-wrenching accounts of Lahaina’s devastation

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The ferocious fire that tore through Lahaina, Hawaii, has left a trail of heartbreak and loss. AFP/File
The ferocious fire that tore through Lahaina, Hawaii, has left a trail of heartbreak and loss. AFP/File

The ferocious fire that tore through Lahaina, Hawaii, has left a trail of heartbreak and loss, as survivors recount harrowing stories of facing the raging inferno that overtook Hawaii’s Maui. 

The flames, fanned by unrelenting winds and fueled by a changing climate, caught residents off guard, turning their lives upside down.

Spice Prince, a seasoned herbalist who had been eagerly preparing for the launch of his new perfume line, found himself suddenly thrust into a battle against not only the blaze but also the relentless gusts that toppled trees and power lines. With exhaustion clinging to his every step, he finally succumbed to slumber on the floor of his shop, his loyal dog by his side. 

The acrid stench of smoke jolted him awake, his heart pounding in his chest, only to be greeted by billowing dark clouds that obscured the horrors unfolding outside.

Maranda Schossow’s seemingly routine drive back to her Front Street apartment transformed into a desperate escape as houses erupted in flames with terrifying swiftness. 

Within moments, the world around her was consumed by a nightmarish blaze, and ash began to rain down like sinister confetti. Fear clutched at her heart as she navigated the chaos, the once-familiar surroundings now shrouded in darkness. “I thought there was gonna be a little more time,” she whispered, her voice trembling with the weight of the minutes that felt like an eternity.

Ke‘eaumoku Kapu, director of Nā ‘Aikāne o Maui Cultural Center, braved returning to the fire-ravaged area to help those who couldn’t evacuate. Tears welled in his eyes as he spoke of the irreplaceable treasures lost to the flames, treasures intricately woven into the fabric of their culture.

Michiko Smith, who grew up in Lahaina, described the aftermath as a scene from a nightmare. “It’s like a nuclear bomb went off,” she said, her voice trembling. 

She shared stories of residents fleeing through fire and smoke, and families making heart-wrenching decisions to ensure their loved ones’ safety.

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