Hikers rescued from ridge above Maalaea brush fire - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hikers rescued from ridge above Maalaea brush fire

(Image: Asa Ellison) (Image: Asa Ellison)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

"We started to get everyone to meet up at 8 o'clock, pretty much got to the hike and started at 8:45". 

For Bryson Funai and three of his friends, Saturday's hike was like any other.  A few hours and 14 miles later as they were coming back down, Bryson's friend Christian CoyKendall spotted the first signs of trouble.

"He said ’Is that sugarcane or clouds?’ I wasn't sure what he meant by that but as we got further down you could see smoke coming up" he said.

That smoke was the Ma'alaea brush fire raging below.  When the quartet realized what it was, they started heading back up the ridge.

"We were like, booking it up, we were all exhausted and it was really hard.  We just had to keep going.  Kendra was on the phone with the 9-1-1 lady, telling her we needed a helicopter" said Isabelle Dougherty, who was part of the group.

Helicopters were sent.  After not being spotted by the first, a second chopper saw them and landed on the ridge.  A firefighter got out and helped load the girls in.

"I was still freaking out because I knew we couldn't all fit on the helicopter together because there were only 2 seats" said Dougherty.

Dougherty and Kendra Bean were airlifted to safety. Funai and Coykendall remained on the ridge with the firefighter for another helicopter.  It arrived---moments before the fire did.

"At that point I got really wide eyed, and I'm watching him get Chupi (Coykendall) into the helicopter and he turns around and looks at me and soon as he looks at me I just point at the ridge over and he looks at me and runs over and says "cmon we gotta go! We gotta go!"

The foursome made it out.. Barely.

"When they take off we're just watching the area pointing out spots where we were literally 5 minutes before that time just looking at all of it engulfed in flames, all burnt out" said Funai.

The hikers were reunited in a safe landing zone minutes later.  The only casualty was Bean’s truck.  A window was left open, and the entire interior was coated in ash and the smell of smoke when the group retrieved the vehicle Sunday.

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