The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Staff Spotlight
Darby Hunt
Darby Hunt
Staff Reporter

Darby Hunt is a Junior year writer for The Sage. He prefers to write Opinion and Feature articles but can write for any section. In his free time, he likes to hike, cook, and ride his bike.

Tropical Flames Cause Devastating Destruction in Maui, Hawaii

Flickr CC BY 2.0
Lahaina was burnt to the ground. The wreckage from the buildings piles on the concrete.

At 6:30 a.m on Aug. 8, a power line fell due to high winds, causing the start of the United States’ deadliest fire in over a century. 2,170 acres have been impacted by the Lahaina fires, and only those who experienced such terrifying times can truly give the world awareness of what took place that Tuesday in Maui. 

High winds quickly spread the fire, making it an inescapable disaster for individuals running on foot and driving cars away from the mess. The fire picked up and moved to another area in merely seconds, surrounding people with no way to flee. There were two other fires also taking place on the island at the time, which made the task of finding a safe location very difficult. 

Some chose to jump in the ocean and swim away from the fire in an attempt to not be burned alive. The air was so polluted with carbon dioxide that animals were left dead in their homes and people were left passed out on the side of the road. Hawaiian residents, shop owners and tourists have been traumatized by the things their eyes witnessed the past few weeks on the island.

The orange gas of the fire spread into the dark night on Aug. 8. This photo displays Cruz’s home and faces toward the highway. ( Angela Cruz)

Angela Cruz, a nurse at Maui Memorial Medical Center, the only hospital on the island, lives about 45 minutes away from Lahaina. She received a text at 9:45 p.m on Tuesday to evacuate her home. Both her husband and herself packed as many belongings as they required and gathered their pets. They decided to wait around the front of their house until 7:00 a.m, and then they went to stay at a friend’s house farther inland. Cruz has been a nurse living on Maui since Sep. 2022 and she has had lots of experience by previously working at Scripps Encinitas in San Diego. 

 “We have had many patients with injuries, eight that I know of were serious and flown to Oahu for further evaluation,” Cruz said. “There is so much emotional pain from people losing everything. Homes that have been in their families for multiple generations all gone. People burned to death trying to escape. Many animals that have been lost also. Maui is in a sad state right now.”

A portion of other displaced residents are being housed in resorts, such as the Four Seasons, the Grand Wailea Astoria, the Royal Lahaina Resort and the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is currently footing the resort bills. Although with FEMA’s limited budget, they won’t be able to continue the program for as long as people are desperate for. 

Sage Creek’s history and economics teacher Ron Cordell stated that the fire will have “catastrophic” effects on Maui’s economy but that “they will recover.” He explained that the west side of Maui’s economy is fully based on tourism in the Lahaina strip. Observers worry whether or not it’s possible for the average small business in Lahaina to have the funds to rebuild even when insurance money is included. 

“Insurance will help with the rebuilding and lost inventory or merchandise,” Cordell said. “However, there will be a stretch where they’re not generating profit, putting them out of commission.” 

Since the 1800s, Lahaina has been a popular spot for vacationers to explore and buy souvenirs. With the fire wiping out the area, prosperous investors might have the chance to take land away from locals. The governor of Maui County, Josh Green, reassured business owners in a video statement by saying “Let me be clear. Lahaina belongs to its people and we are committed to rebuilding and restoring it the way they want it.” However, many wonder if Maui could prosper more from new businesses and governmental incomes being rebuilt in the Lahaina area. 

Gas was visibly seen in the atmosphere. This is the upper highway on Kihei when the fire was still active. (Angela Cruz)

“It is hard for me to imagine how they could become more prosperous. A major part of the charm is the history,” Cordell said. “I have the impression from speaking with friends and listening to people personally affected by the fire that they would prefer to restore the area to its most original. They’re caught in tourism because it’s the only industry left on Maui.”

Jessalyn Nicole, the owner of “Beyoutiful Soul Shop,” lost her home and both of her store locations in Lahaina. She has been trying to regularly advocate for Hawaii by posting Instagram livestreams, posts, stories and participating in interviews on her experiences. In an Aug. 11 post, she wrote, “This devastation has left us homeless, businesses burnt to the ground, we left our cat, heartbroken is an absolute understatement.” 

There’s no doubt Nicole’s profit has been affected by the fire, but she is planning on rebuilding her shops. 

Lahaina survived independence as a nation and became the 50th state, but it is now experiencing the long term effects of colonization. Lahaina originally was a lush valley but it was developed for sugar cane production, which left it in an unnatural state. People disagree on how the land should be restored. 

As of Tuesday, Sep. 12, the County of Maui has stated that there are 41 individuals unaccounted for since the Lahaina fire. It could be that those people were able to fly off the island sometime these past few weeks, there’s also the unacceptable possibility that those human beings passed from the gas or flames of the fire. The confirmed number of deaths is currently 115.

 “Lahaina is in ash and there is no other way to go but forward,” Cruz firmly said when giving her point on what Maui’s future entails. “Life moves on and things never remain the same. We remember the good, honor the bad and move forward with new memories.”

There are considerable quantities of fundraisers and organizations that anyone can donate money to to help those suffering from house displacement, destroyed businesses and health problems. Some of these organizations include The American Red Cross, The Hawaii Community Foundation, Maui United Way and Maui Food Bank. Hawaii needs help, and donations are greatly appreciated. 

“We may have no home but we have each other and all of you,” Nicole said. “We are stronger together and this is just the beginning.”

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