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Escaping the Hawaii Wildfires

Escaping the Hawaii Wildfires

Update: 2024-04-22


Lani Williams and her mother, Sincerity, could smell smoke, but that wasn’t rare on Maui. Brush fires happen with some regularity. This fire, they quickly learned, was different. 

Five hundred miles to the south, Hurricane Dora had kicked up unusually troublesome winds. In Lahaina, Hawaii, where Lani and Sincerity lived, those winds downed power lines and whipped sparks into a full-blown wildfire that was closing in on them. They tried to escape the blaze by car, but the main roads were either closed or blocked by a crush of panicked drivers trying to leave town. They were stuck between the fire on one side and the ocean on the other.

Benny Reinicke smelled smoke that morning too and found himself in the same logjam of frightened drivers desperately trying to flee Lahaina. Amidst smoke and flames and exploding cars, he spotted Lani struggling to help her mom climb the seawall and get to safety. He took it upon himself to make sure they made it.

We also speak with wildfire expert Michele Steinberg from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) about how you can identify hazards and strategies to help protect against wildfires.

If you’d like to help the residents of Lahaina and others impacted by natural disasters, you can donate to the American Red Cross at

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Escaping the Hawaii Wildfires

Escaping the Hawaii Wildfires

Torah Kachur, Lani Williams, Benny Reinicke, Michele Steinberg