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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fire in Hawaii. Stories of Hawaiians who survived the fires

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At least 80 people have died as a result of wildfires in Hawaii. This is the state for Saturday afternoon, but it is possible that the tragic balance will increase even more. The fire is still burning, but firefighters are doing everything they can to put it out. The conflagration destroyed over two thousand houses, many residents have nowhere and nothing to return to.

The greatest damage was recorded on the island of Maui. The flames spread extremely quickly due to the gusty wind. One person who has lost everything because of this is La Phena Davis. The house where her great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and then herself lived, was destroyed on Tuesday.

“I never thought the fire would reach our house,” she told CNN. She didn’t have much time to evacuate. She grabbed her papers and essentials and just ran away, leaving a place full of memories behind her. – Everything we had was completely burned. […] There is absolutely nothing left of our neighborhood. This is the loss of our entire community, our city. We are shocked to the core,” she added.

>>> Read more: “A pile of ashes in an almost ghost town.” More killed in Hawaii

Effects of fires in HawaiiPAP/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

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Hawaii firesPAP/EPA/HAWAII WING CIVIL AIR PATROL / HANDOUT

“We are all homeless”

Dustin Kaleiopu has been through a similar situation before. In 2018, when Hurricane Lane caused the wind to exacerbate the bushfires, firefighters knocked on the door of his house. They informed about impending danger and recommended evacuation.

– Nothing happened this time. No warning, the man complained. The smoke was getting thicker and darker. It soon filled our house and I had no choice. I told my grandfather [z którym mieszkam – red.]we have to run away,” he said.

The rest of his family also managed to survive, but they have nothing to return to. “In Lahaina, everything has completely disappeared. It was devastating when […] we saw what our city turned into overnight. Everyone I know and love, everyone I’m related to, everyone I come in contact with – my colleagues, friends, family – we’ve all become homeless,” the man said.

>>> See: “Paradise on Earth” in ruins. Photos before and after the fires

Hawaii firesPAP/EPA/CARTER BARTO/HANDOUT

Hawaii fires PAP/EPA/CARTER BARTO

“It looked like annihilation”

Bryan Aguiran was at work when he received word that Lahaina residents had to evacuate as the city was being “eaten alive by flames”. Nevertheless, he decided to come back and help somehow.

– I drove my truck to Lahaina, but they blocked the road and did not let anyone in. Then I ran out of gas, so I left her and walked,” he told CNN. What he saw exceeded his expectations. – It looked like annihilation, armageddon, […] like a war zone.

Together with other residents, he tried to control the flames on his own. He saw his family’s houses burn. Now Aguiran, like his 22 relatives, was left homeless.

Effects of fires in HawaiiPAP/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

“Everything was still hot, like an atomic bomb”

Doctor Reza Danesh was called to help the affected people of Lahaina. – I didn’t realize what I was signing up for. It reminded me of the pandemic, when even New York was a ghost town in the pictures. He added that there was still a sense of danger. “Everything was still hot, like an atomic bomb,” he said.

The doctor mentioned that many of the victims had not had anything to eat for many hours, some of them had trouble breathing, and some also had eye damage.

– A man used a rope to rappel down from his third-floor apartment when he saw the flames. He felt how hot the walls were and knew he shouldn’t have opened the door. He said that probably all the other occupants of the building died, Danesh said, quoting a story he heard from one of his patients.

Effects of fires in HawaiiPAP/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

Effects of fires in HawaiiPAP/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

“I thought we would come back”

The flames also reached Teri Lawrence’s home, where she runs a shelter for wildlife such as turtles and birds.

– Around three or four o’clock in the morning there were flames. So we started taking water from the ocean and spraying it on the plants and the hedge, she said. We saw houses burning around us. We tried to put out the fire, but there was no way we could keep up. […] Then we heard propane tanks exploding and saw another street go up in flames.

Lawrence thought until the last moment that they could protect the reservation. But then her neighbor’s roof caught fire. So the woman ran for documents, some photos of her parents, an urn with her brother’s ashes, and her dead dog’s favorite blanket.

“Really, to be honest, I thought we’d go back there again,” she said resignedly. When they were in a safe place, it turned out that – although she tried – she did not take all the animals from the shelter.

– We forgot two turtles and seven birds. […] We practically left these animals to fry. It’s unbelievable. I am devastated. I could see that they were scared and I would tell them “You don’t have to be afraid when you’re with me”. And I left them. I can’t understand how scared they must have been.

Effects of fires in HawaiiPAP/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

“I’m covered in soot and still in the clothes I was wearing at the time of the fire. That’s all I have. I lived in this house for 32 years and now I feel like I was never born. I don’t have anything else,” she told CNN.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT



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