Wildfires have devastated parts of Maui in Hawaii this week, leaving a trail of destruction and devastation, decimating a historic town. While many wait in agony for news on whether their friends and family are safe, the fires have already claimed the lives of more than 90 people — making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than 100 years. Here are the stories of those who died.
DREAMING OF RETIREMENT
All Donna Hartley could think of as TV footage showed fires engulfing the town of Lahaina was her sister. But Carole Hartley wasn’t picking up her phone.
“I told my husband that if this is burned like this then Carole’s house is gone,” the 62-year-old said.
Two days later, her sister’s partner called, and the news wasn’t good. He told her that he had been in the front yard loading his car and Carole Hartley had been in the backyard, possibly checking on a tenant, when the wind fanned the flames. The car exploded.
After Carole’s partner assembled a team of friends for a search party, Donna Hartley heard the news Saturday night that he had found her sister’s remains, including her watch. She is still waiting for official DNA verification for her free-spirited little sister, who had lived in Lahaina for 36 years.
“Her birthday was August 28, and she was going to be 61 years old,” Donna Hartley said. “She kept telling me as of late ,,, one more year sister, and I’m retiring.” Donna Hartley said her friends at home in Grand Bay, Alabama, plan on holding a memorial for Carole.
A FAMILY’S LOSS
A family of four — Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, Salote Takafua, and her son, Tony Takafua — died while attempting to flee from the flames. Their remains were found Thursday in a burned car near their home.
“The magnitude of our grief is indescribable,” read a statement from family members.
Lylas Kanemoto, who knew the Tone family, confirmed the devastating news Sunday.
“At least we have closure for them, but the loss and heartbreak is unbearable for many. We as a community has to just embrace each other and support our families, friends, and our community to our best of our abilities,” Kanemoto told The Associated Press by text message on Sunday.
Kanemoto is still awaiting news on her cousin, Glen Yoshino, who is missing.
“I’m afraid he is gone because we have not heard from him and he would’ve found a way to contact family,” Kanemoto said. “We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.”
‘A REALLY GOOD MAN’
Retired fire captain Geoff Bogar and his friend of 35 years, Franklin Trejos, initially stayed behind to help others in Lahaina and save Bogar’s house. But as the flames moved closer and closer Tuesday afternoon, they knew they had to flee.
Each escaped to his own car. When Bogar’s vehicle wouldn’t start, he broke through a window to get out and crawled on the ground until a police patrol found him, and he was taken to a hospital.
Trejos didn’t escape.
When Bogar returned the next day, he found the bones of his 68-year-old friend in the back seat of his car, lying on top of the remains of the Bogars’ beloved 3-year-old golden retriever Sam, whom he had tried to protect.
Trejos, a native of Costa Rica, had lived for years with Bogar and his wife, Shannon Weber-Bogar, helping her with her seizures when her husband couldn’t. He filled their lives with love and laughter.
“God took a really good man,” Weber-Bogar said.