From honeymoon to escape: Santa Rosa newlyweds flee from Maui wildfire

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, August 12, 2023
From honeymoon to escape: Bay Area newlyweds flee from Maui fire
Newlyweds from Santa Rosa are telling a scary story about their honeymoon in Maui that did not go according to plan.

MAUI, Hawaii (KGO) -- Newlyweds from Santa Rosa are telling a scary story about their honeymoon in Maui that did not go according to plan.

"We were looking forward to Maui, swimming and sea turtles," said Courtney Frazer.

Just days after newlyweds Courtney Frazer and Aldo Vargas tied the knot on a Marin County beach, the couple was off to Maui for their dream honeymoon, which was anything but.

"We went from planning the perfect honeymoon to planning how to escape from fire," said Vargas.

MORE: 'There's just nothing left.' Maui resident jumped into ocean to escape flames that overtook his home

But once the couple from Santa Rosa arrived at their hotel in Kaanapali on Monday, the weather quickly changed.

"The winds were crazy, at the pool the chairs were blowing over," said Frazer.

Courtney says on Tuesday evening, the wildfires began. The smoke and flames could be seen from the couple's patio.

"There was no communication," said Vargas.

The power failed and cell phones didn't work.

VIDEO: Man records Maui destruction, comes across historic Banyan tree still standing

A Maui resident recorded the wildfire destruction while escaping from it, and comes across the historic Banyan tree still standing.

"There wasn't any food at the hotel because of no power," said Frazer.

They stood in line for hours at a grocery store getting food and ice.

But the couple says living through the 2017 North Bay wildfires taught them to be calm and vigilant.

"Honestly, being in the Santa Rosa fires and with the strong winds, we slept in the lobby, taking shifts," said Frazer.

Then they made a choice to head to the airport in their rental car but with Lahaina in flames, the main road was closed.

VIDEO: Drive through Lahaina neighborhood reveals apocalyptic scene after deadly wildfire

Video shows an apocalyptic scene as a group drives through Lahaina, Maui neighborhoods where a wildfire destroyed more than 1,000 buildings.

"Luckily, I grabbed a map from the hotel, we followed it the other way," said Frazer.

"We took a backroad every local told us not to take, it probably took us three hours driving, it was a very scary road," Vargas added.

They made it and got a flight to Honolulu where they spoke to ABC7 News from the airport. But with no return flights available to the Bay Area, they flew back to Maui where the TSA line was long. As of Friday evening, the couple finally arrived in Oakland. They weren't sure it would happen, but say they're "feeling relieved."

Courtney says it's a small price to pay after Maui families have suffered unimaginable loss and tragedy.

"We're fortunate to have each other, to have a home to go to we're safe. Our hearts go out to people in Lahaina the families who lost homes and lives," said Frazer.

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