One Month After the Lahaina Fire, Families and Residents Seek Closure


Eric Lee, 40, a guide with Maui Off-Road Adventures, lost his home in the fire, as did his mother, who lived on Front Street, along the ocean where some people died in their cars while stuck in evacuation traffic. For 48 hours after the fire, Mr. Lee had no idea where his mother was. “I was freaking out for two days and finally found her,” he said on Thursday, his voice shaking with emotion.

Mr. Lee is living in a vacation rental, with the help of the Red Cross, and is making a point to keep enjoying what he loves about Maui, like the ocean.

“I have hope because I love this place,” he said. “I love Lahaina. It is everything that I know. It’s the people that I see in this place, smiling and together.”

In the weeks after the fire, Maui felt as if it were in a state of suspended animation, with traumatized residents seeking out information and trying to comprehend the scale of the loss. Last Friday, the process of communal grieving began, with sunrise ceremonies held in locations across Maui, Molokai, the island of Hawaii, Oahu and Kauai.

Pastor John Crewe went to the vigil because he wanted to be in the presence of those praying for Maui. His church, Lahaina United Methodist Church, had burned, but he said everyone in his congregation had made it out safely.

“What encourages me is seeing everybody together,” Mr. Crewe said. “There is a theme of gratitude and connectedness. And to rebuild after this, we’re going to need that.”

Corina Knoll contributed reporting.


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