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Catholic Family Narrowly Escapes Hawaii Wildfires: ‘We Did a Lot of Praying’

A Catholic family visiting Hawaii from California barely escaped with their lives after being trapped for a time by the recent deadly wildfires on Maui in what they said was a “nightmare” experience.

As of Wednesday, more than 100 people are confirmed dead on Maui, with the toll expected to rise, after fast-moving wildfires ripped through the island beginning around Aug. 8. The damage encompasses hundreds of structures, including numerous historic buildings and churches. The latest update from Maui County says the largest of the fires is 85% contained and has burned 2,170 acres.

Angel and Ana Cardenas and their three children, of Sacramento, California, have been visiting Maui annually on family vacations for the past decade. Angel Cardenas, 46, who works in video production, told CNA that the family had spent eight days on the island, staying just north of the historic resort town of Lahaina, and were scheduled to leave for home on Aug. 9.

However, they began to hear reports on Monday, Aug. 7, that Hurricane Dora was passing through the southern part of the Hawaiian islands.

“A little bit later in the day, the winds kept picking up, getting stronger, knocking things over. They closed the pool down just because things were flying everywhere. The kids were starting to get a little worried just because they were really strong winds that were really loud,” Cardenas recalled.

By the next morning, Cardenas said, power was out in the area and the local grocery store was jammed with people frantic for supplies. To make matters worse, the Cardenases needed to get to the airport the next morning but their rental van was low on gas, and all gas pumps were nonfunctional. They packed up their van anyway, in preparation for a likely evacuation. Being from northern California, the Cardenases were not unfamiliar with the dangers of wildfires.

Then they saw the smoke. The exact cause of the wildfires has not been determined, but strong winds from Dora appear to have contributed to the fires’ spread. Many residents were surprised by the fast-moving flames and had to flee on foot, while thousands of tourists evacuated.

“At that point, we didn’t know the extent of the fire, but we knew there was a fire. And so with strong winds, you put two and two together, and you start worrying a little bit,” Cardenas said.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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