Maui residents who disobeyed barricade survived fires: AP – The Hill

Those who disobeyed the barricaded road closures during the Maui fires survived the disaster, while many of those who heeded orders to turn around perished in their cars and homes with no way out, The Associated Press reported.
At least 114 people were killed in the fires earlier this month, and the FBI is estimating that up to 1,100 more are unaccounted for. Officials are facing increased scrutiny for the emergency response, including why the emergency sirens were not set off and whether closing the roads prevented people from getting to safety.
In the early hours of the Maui fires, there were more than 30 power poles downed alongside the Honoapiilani Highway at the south end of Lahaina — a historic town that was decimated in the fires earlier this month. Officials closed Lahaina Bypass Road due to the fires, blocking the only way out of Lahaina to the southern part of the island.  
Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said during a news conference that officers never stopped people from leaving the area, but the AP report suggests that residents were discouraged from disobeying the barricade. 
One family swerved around the barricade set up to escape the flames, while another resident took a dirt road uphill to climb above the fire, according to the AP. However, many others who stayed in the cars on that road were stuck in a gridlock, with fires surrounding them on most sides with the ocean on the remaining side.
Nate Baird and Courtney Stapleton recounted their experience to the outlet, saying they loaded the car up with their two sons, Baird’s mother and one dog to escape the flames. When they turned south to escape Lahaina, they were met with cones and were told to turn around to Lahaina, which was already burning.
Instead of turning around, they swerved past the cones and escaped to a neighboring town.
“Nobody realized how little time we really had,” Baird said. “Like even us being from the heart of the fire, we did not comprehend. Like we literally had minutes and one wrong turn. We would all be dead right now.”
Baird told the reporter that if they had 10 more minutes, they could have saved children who were left home alone in their neighborhood during the fires.
“The kids just don’t have a filter. So their son ran up and was just telling our son, you know, ‘This kid is dead. This kid is dead.’ And it’s like, all my son’s friends that they come to our house every day,” he said. “And their parents were at work, and they were home alone. And nobody had a warning. Nobody, nobody, nobody knew.”
Kim Cuevas-Reyes said that she survived with her two sons by ignoring orders to turn right onto Front Street, which has now been devastated by the fires. Instead, she turned left and drove in the wrong lane to escape the town.
“The gridlock would have left us there when the firestorm came,” Cuevas-Reyes, 38, told the AP. “I would have had to tell my children to jump into the ocean as well and be boiled alive by the flames or we would have just died from smoke inhalation and roasted in the car.”
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