MFD chief: Lahaina blaze jumped from home to home like a wildfire moving through grass

In a one-on-one interview. He addressing the challenges his men and women were up against in the face of the fire.
Published: Aug. 20, 2023 at 11:04 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 12:31 AM HST
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LAHAINA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura says it is difficult to describe how ferocious the fire was in Lahaina on Aug. 8.

He says unless you were there, you would never know.

“The way they described it to me was the fire moved so rapidly through the neighborhood that it was moving like a wildfire moving through grass, but it was burning structures,” he said.

The chief says many of his firefighters were trapped themselves.

He says that “no one gets left behind” mentality and training is the only reason every one of his men and women made it out alive.

“The heat and the wind and the blockage of the roads at that time,” he said. “They’re heroes for getting out of there. They’re incredible individuals for just being able to keep their poise, make the right decisions.”

Ventura wasn’t on the island that deadly afternoon. He said he was taking his daughter to college in Colorado. However, he booked a flight back home as soon as he could.

“It’s very tough to be away from our people, especially during it’s such a time of need,” Ventura said tearing up.

“We’re a close-knit community. We’re a close-knit Fire Department … and just knowing that my firefighters are hurting is difficult.”

Two fire engines were destroyed and more than a dozen firefighters lost their homes.

“For our community, we hurt with you all the way through it. We have firefighters that grew up in Lahaina, they are multigenerational Lahaina families,” said Ventura.

“Nobody at our department is unaffected, nobody in our county is unaffected, and it’s possible it’s the same with the whole state.”

Ventura wants the people of Lahaina and the world to know that every single firefighter gave it everything they had, and they were able to save thousands of lives and hundreds of homes.

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