Bay Area residents feel impacts of devastating Maui wildfires, some struggling to contact loved ones

Dustin Dorsey Image
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Bay Area residents feel impacts of devastating Maui wildfires
Bay Area residents are feeling the impacts of the devastating Maui wildfires, some with friends and friendly who they've been out of contact with.

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- Devastating damage from wildfires is sadly not uncommon for Bay Area natives.

But images Sausalito residents Carter Waite and Shelby Goetzfried are seeing of their former home, Maui, are things they'd never believe would happen to the beautiful island.

"Pretty tough to comprehend everything that's going on right now," Waite said.

"We're pretty shook up," Goetzfried said. "I've actually lost my home to fire in the past. It's really close to home to those people who are actually losing everything because my family lost everything. It's just really hard to watch all of our brothers and sisters on the island go through this after watching year after year, people going through it in the Bay Area."

MORE: Devastating Hawaii wildfires concern passengers, impact Bay Area travel

Mineta San Jose International Airport travelers with Maui itineraries react to devastating, fast-moving wildfires.

Waite and Goetzfried have struggled to contact friends and family with the power out and cell service that's either limited or non-existent.

They told us their second home just north of Lahaina could soon end up in an evacuation zone, while their friends' houses and the historic town have been destroyed by flames.

"It's a really hard thing to think about," Waite said. "Front Street, a place that I always held very close to me as a kid, and all of West Maui -- to think that potentially a lot of it, if not all of it, is ravished by the fires and will need to be rebuilt."

MORE: Hawaii wildfires: Aerial video shows widespread devastation from wildfire in Lahaina

We're getting our first aerial look at the devastation in the historic Hawaiian town of Lahaina as a wildfire whips through the area -- and it's absolutely heartbreaking.

"It would be like if all of Sausalito burned down," Eric Tao said. "It's a unique, historic, beautiful place that's irreplaceable. That's what Lahaina Town is."

Eric Tao is a board member with the Hawai'i Chamber of Commerce of Northern California.

He says losing the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and landmarks like the historic banyan tree are irreplaceable to Hawaii's cultural history.

MORE: Wildfire burning one of Hawaii's most popular tourist areas as people flee: Maui officials

Tao hopes -- given the strong ties to the Pacific Island culture -- the Bay Area will step in to help residents in need and rebuild the beautiful island of Maui.

"Our organization, we will be coordinating and monitoring whatever support we can provide," Tao said. "The spirit is always there, the community is there -- that's the most important. But I think between my friends and my family, no one can put into words the loss of Lahaina for what it represents and what it is."

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