On August 8, early in the morning a fire was declared uptown Lahaina, on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Approximately two hours later, the fire was believed to be contained. According to Dan Nelson, firefighters went to tackle another fire that had broken out that day, leaving the extinguished fire unmonitored.
The tail of Hurricane Dora brought powerful winds, rekindling the fire and destroying almost the entire town. A total of 2,200 structures were destroyed, with 86% of them being residential. Numerous individuals, including children, lost their lives in this tragedy.
Dan Nelson, whose house survived the fire, remained on the ground throughout the ordeal, attempting to protect his neighbours. Unfortunately, this fire spiralled out of control. Despite being a firefighter himself, Dan explains what he witnessed on the ground:
I had a fire hose connected to the fire hydrant down here, where I was going to try to protect the house myself. However, the fire hydrant was dry, and there was no water. The hoses had no water. At that point, I didn't think there was any way my house was going to survive.
The lack of water, insufficient manpower and adverse conditions combined to create a dangerously perfect firestorm. One of the questions raised was why some houses remained intact. Dan clarifies this through fire and wind behavior: "The winds kept changing directions, zigzagging straight down the hill. They blew toward the northwest, flowed toward the southwest, and it zigzagged. You can observe this pattern by looking around the houses here and how it moved around my house."
Concerning the water shortage for firefighting, Dan explains that it seems that the pump stations supplying municipal water in Lahaina are reliant on electricity. When the fire reached the power substation, it knocked out power to everything, including the water supply, causing a water shortage.
He also mentions that a friend informed him that roads were blocked due to fallen trees and power lines, trapping people in the town. Traffic became immobilized, leading to fatalities in cars.
On the day of our interview with Dan Nelson, President Joe Biden was in town to visit the ruins and speak with first responders.
On this matter, Dan holds a strong opinion: "He really offended a lot of local people when he said no comment. I mean, I don't understand how the person in charge cannot have a comment, or at the very least say that he's sorry for what you guys are going through."
Don’t miss this incredible interview, and for more information, or to support our independent, truth-seeking journalism, visit TheTruthAboutMaui.com.