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Devastation in Lahaina as Town Lies in Ruins

The death toll from the fire that tore through Maui’s waterfront town of Lahaina this week now stands at 55, with many people still missing. NBC News reports that the mayor is expected to announce today that people will be able to go and see their homes. Lahaina’s residents and their friends have been sharing stories with each other and across social media, all speaking of the same devastation that has been shown in the news. We reached out to Bay Area sailor Ronnie Simpson of SV Sparrow, who spent many years living in the township. He told us that all the homes he knew there are now ash.

Ronnie has heard from friends saying they are safe; however their boats have not all survived. With little notice or time to react, and unable to take their boats out of their slips in the gusting 70-knot winds, boat owners fled on tenders as flames, ash and smoke poured over them and those who had jumped into the water for safety and clung to rocks before being picked up by the Coast Guard. One good note: Ronnie said that all the charter catamarans that survived the fire “are now running people and supplies north and south, in and out of Lahaina.”

Latitude 38 reader Barry Spanier wrote, “Flaming diesel in the water, boats broken loose as the docklines burned, then blowing down the harbor. Apparently there were boats on moorings in the roadstead that burned like torches.” Barry once owned a sail loft in Lahaina. The loft survived, but his son, who now runs the loft, escaped his home with just a backpack and his bike.

Barry’s former boat, the Westsail 42 Cornelia, was in the harbor, and has been lost to the flames. “Another harbor friend said the wind was hurricane strength and the fire came so fast they were forced to get into the water as everything began to explode and burn.”

The Lahaina Yacht Club has posted on their Instagram page:

The fire has destroyed most of the town, much of which is historically and culturally significant. According to CAL FIRE statistics, it is the second-deadliest fire in decades, behind the California Camp fire of November 2018, which killed 85 people. And while the Lahaina fire is now 80% contained, six fires are still burning across Maui and the Big Island.

This footage posted on Twitter @WxNB shows the devastation and smoldering remnants of Lahaina:

People throughout the US, and likely the world, are flooding the internet with messages of hope and offers to help. The fundraising site GoFundMe has created a page dedicated to the many pleas for support created for those who have lost so much as a result of the fires. We urge everyone to check out the page, and help as they can. It won’t bring back what has been lost, but it will help people rebuild their lives: Maui Wildfires Relief Fundraisers.

We also found this page for the Maui Food Bank’s Disaster Relief appeal.


  1. Jon Maestri 10 months ago

    Having been born and raised in Hawaii and having family residences North of Lahaina this painful to watch. Knowing how slowly the wheels turn in the Islands, the clean up, building permit process, obtaining building materials, and scarcity of skilled tradesmen,etc. This will take years.

  2. Rev Dr Malama 10 months ago

    Heart wrenching is an understatement. I too have many fond memories of Lahaina water and landscape the people so wonderful and mangoes beyond belief!!!
    There was ample warning via wx weather marine radio phone and internet if you had the due diligence to be checking in with the source focusing on Hurricane Dora and drought conditions… in my 70 years on the planet I have had my share of seeing and avoiding NATURAL disasters. Perhaps more education is needed for the average joe to wake up ???
    Still waiting for the call for my (retired) boots on the ground from Kauai as the burnout of 1st responders increases. Aloha

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