Palm Beach Gardens family escapes wildfires in Maui

Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 7:35 PM EDT
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The memories are fresh and haunting. Brett Morris, his wife and daughter just returned from Maui with more than jetlag. They arrived in the stunning beauty of the island for three days until mother nature unleashed a perilous forecast. The power went out, 50 mph winds gusted and then a menacing site from his balcony.

"You can see the black smoke getting heavier and moving down toward Lahaina," Brett Morris said.

Each hour grew worse through the lens of his camera. Morris had a front-row seat a mile away from a natural disaster. One he never knew would rage into a global story.

"It just spread rapidly, and I think the entire town of Lahaina burned down within 30 to 45 minutes," Morris said. "We heard cars exploding, propane tanks exploding, and you could see what was going on down there because it was so close to our hotel."

Maui fires are another disaster in which warning sirens stayed silent
Maui fires are another disaster in which warning sirens stayed silent

The days following brought a tense and terrifying reality. Roads were closed and there was no way out.

"We were stuck at the hotel. We had no power. We had no cell service. We had no WiFi service. So, zero form of communication," he said.

The aftermath proved to be unapologetic. Morris and his family were finally rescued and bused out with others for what would be an agonizing journey to the airport and finally home. The memory of those painful images and the reality of what they endured will always leave a lasting impression.

"We drove out of there, you know, cars still smoldering, houses still on fire, buildings smoking, telephone lines still on fire in the road. Police, National Guard, I mean, it was the most horrific thing I've ever seen in my life. My heart literally broke for these people of Maui."

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