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Timeline before elderly housing complex burned in Lahaina wildfires

A Scripps News visual investigation determined the complex had been destroyed and the fate of the people inside was unknown.
Timeline before elderly housing complex burned in Lahaina wildfires
Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-18 16:43:50-04

The timeline begins just minutes after the first fire is reported on Maui. It's early in the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 8.

A staff member inside the Hale Mahaolu Eono Apartments reported seeing smoke and alerted tenants that they may need to evacuate.

The account has been detailed for the first time in a timeline provided by the management company. 

As smoke was seen outside, staffers went door to door throughout the complex. But by 9 a.m., Maui County officials said the fire was 100% contained. 

The situation didn't stay calm for long. 

By 10:30 a.m., winds were whipping and by 11:30 a.m., smoke was building outside. There was still no evacuation notice, but the resident manager says he decided to act, evacuating with his wife. He says he asked four residents to leave with him — they refused. It's unclear how quickly fire engulfed the building. But using both satellite imagery and videos shared on social media, Scripps News previously identified the building complex as one of the many parts of Lahaina devastated by the fire.

The buildings making up the complex are visible in before and after satellite imagery from satellite imaging company Maxar.

On-the-ground video shared on social media shows that the buildings were leveled. Footage from Maui Now showed the block engulfed in flames. Most of the residents living at that complex did decide to evacuate.

It's not clear why those four individuals 

stayed behind. The staff thinks it's because there had been previous warnings that didn't end with this devastation, and note the fire had been declared contained just hours before.

SEE MORE: Man, dog camp in mail truck, half-mile from home lost in Maui wildfire


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