Former Bossier man lives to tell about Maui wildfires

Steve Scott’s apartment building and car were destroyed in the Lahaina, Hawaii wildfires. (Submitted photo)


The devastating wildfires in Lahaina, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, have killed at least 115 people.

Thousands of survivors were left without homes, cars, and personal belongings.

Many lost everything, including someone who grew up in Bossier City.

After his father was transferred to Barksdale Air Force Base, Steve Scott went to Plantation Park Elementary, Greenacres Junior High, and Airline High School. After graduating Louisiana Tech, Scott moved to Dallas and began a sales career. Eventually, he moved to Maui.

Below is Scott’s first-hand account of what happened the morning of August 8th, as told to the Shreveport-Bossier Journal. The soon-to-be 70 year-old answered questions via email, because of limited cell service on the island. His description has been edited for brevity.

“My wife, Patricia, woke me early telling me of high winds. I awoke to 70 mph winds and shortly started to smell smoke.  Soon, we saw flames shooting up close to us. I saw the historic Plantation Inn go up in flames, so I grabbed a water hose and tried to wet down our four-story apartment building. Soon, my wife and I were trapped by flames on all three sides, so we ran to the seawall on the famous Front Street. Our neighbor, Etina, took my next-door neighbor, Freeman, and followed us to the seawall, where we propped Freeman up on the seawall per his instructions. He passed away due to the toxic air and dense black smoke. Patricia and I ran to Lahaina Harbor.”

“As we started to run from the seawall on Front Street, there were many people jumping into the ocean to escape the roaring and fast-moving flames. One boat moored in the harbor was on fire moored and  leaking oil and gas into the water, causing other boats to catch fire. It is my understanding that many (people) perished in the ocean.”

“Before leaving the harbor area, I instructed Patricia to run to Prison Street and hook-up with a friend who had a car and to get out of Lahaina Town and West Maui.  I went back to the intersection and watched Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant, many art galleries, souvenir shops, and other famous restaurants

like Kimo’s and Lahaina Grill, go up in flames.”

“After a very short time, the fire turned and headed south. It quickly passed through Kamehameha Elementary School, took out the tennis courts, and we watched a literal wave of fire consume the Salvation Army complex. It turned and came at us at the 505 shopping complex, burning all the restaurants and a well-known luau – Feast at Lele.”

“A police officer asked me to help him with several elderly folks who were in wheelchairs, walkers, and who were sick.  So, I helped several other locals move them south toward Puamana. The flames quickly followed us. Once at the gate of Puamana community, we stopped near two vacated cars. The flames were quickly approaching, so the officer had one lady take one car and three elderly locals to the hospital on the other side of the island in Kahului. He instructed me, against my will, to take the other car and take several others with me to safety and the hospital. So, I did just that, barely escaping the quick-moving flames.”

“I did not know where Patricia was, or if she was alive. I tried to rest and sleep a bit but was extremely exhausted and thirsty. The next morning, I began my quest to find my wife. I asked numerous people if I could use their cellphone, as I ran from my apartment without grabbing my cellphone, wallet, money, or any identification. I had nothing of a personal nature. Several locals refused to let me use their cellphone, as they had limited battery life, and connections to cellphone carriers were poor. Into the afternoon, I finally found a man with 6% battery and one phone call left. He let me make the one call his phone would make as he had no family and no one to call.”

“Patricia had made her way, somehow, to Olowalu – then to Kahului.  She walked to Wal-Mart to get a phone charger. I had been calling for many hours and her phone always went to voice mail. She charged her phone as I made my last phone call, and she answered my call. I told her to be silent and just listen: ‘Somehow, get to the McDonald’s in Wailuku.’  No matter how long it would take her to get there, I would be waiting for her.”

“So, I drove to Wailuku and waited at the closed McDonald’s parking lot for several hours wondering if she was going to show up.  Finally, a big diesel tractor trailer rig maneuvered into the parking lot and Patricia jumped out of the cab.  I waved to the driver, and we were finally united.”

“We then drove back to Maalaea Harbor and spent the next four nights together in a car that we had no idea of the identity of the owner.  But locals began to bring water and sandwiches to those stuck in the parking lot, as the single road to the west side of Maui was closed to all traffic due to the continuing fires.”

“My son and daughter-in-law’s house was damaged but may be repairable. It is on the edge of Lahaina Town, and while others around it are heavily damaged and destroyed, their home may be livable.”

(Scott and his wife spent several nights in a car of which they do not know the owner.)

“Presently, I am housed at the Outrigger Ka’anapali Beach Resort, and Patricia is housed in a room at the Maui Sands resort. My son and daughter-in-law are housed at Mahinahina in Kahana. We are alive and have food available, with no idea of the future.”

If you would like to help Scott and Patricia, their Venmo handle is “steven-scott-272.” Their PayPal handle is “Big Wave Taffy.”

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