Victims of Maui wildfires included two longtime residents who tried to flee their homes

by -3856 Views


A 68-year-old man who tried to save his home from burning and a 60-year-old woman who got lost in thick black smoke while trying to evacuate were among the 96 lives lost in the apocalyptic Maui wildfires, family members told CNN.

Franklin Trejos – known to his loved ones as “Frankie” – had lived in the historic town of Lahaina for three decades before the violent flames consumed his neighborhood, his niece Kika Perez Grant said.

Trejos’ roommate and longtime friend found his remains just blocks from their home after the two attempted to flee the flames together. He was found on top of the roommate’s dog, who also died in the fire, and who Trejos loved dearly, his niece said.

The death toll from the devastating fires has been rising since last week as crews sift through the ruins of west Maui communities that were reduced to ashes. With them are cadaver dogs, trained to detect human remains.

More than 2,000 structures were destroyed or damaged, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green estimated, the vast majority of which were residential.

And still, an unknown number of people remain unaccounted for.

Here’s what we know about the people who died.

Perez Grant said her uncle’s roommate called Trejos’ family shortly after the fire passed through Lahaina, informing them the area had been scorched and that, after a chaotic evacuation, he did not know if his friend had made it out alive.

For hours, the family remained hopeful they would soon receive good news.

But then, “his roommate called us again a few hours later to tell us he had found Uncle Frankie’s remains,” Perez Grant said.

Trejos’ roommate described to the family how he and Trejos had attempted to save their property as the blaze approached but then jumped in their cars and attempted to evacuate. The roommate, whose car would not start, suffered burns to his body after he crawled around for help until someone found him.

When he returned to the area, he found Trejos’ car and his remains just a few blocks from their house.

“Uncle Frankie was a kind man, a nature lover, an animal lover and he loved his friends and his families with this whole heart,” his niece said.

“He loved adventure and was a free spirit.”

Carole Hartley seen here in an undated picture.

Carole Hartley, who lived in downtown Lahaina, also lost her life as she tried to run to safety, her sister told CNN.

As Hartley and her partner attempted to escape the flames, they were separated by thick, black smoke that surrounded them, Donna Gardner Hartley said.

Powerful winds, whipped by Hurricane Dora that was churning hundreds of miles away, moved quickly and “kept changing,” Gardner Hartley wrote in a Facebook post.

“(Hartley’s partner) said they were inside a dark smoke (that) felt like a tornado and they could not see nothing they kept calling each others name,” she wrote.

“He was screaming … ‘Run run run Carole run.’ He eventually could not hear her anymore.”

Hartley’s partner was eventually found by his friends and treated for burn injuries, Gardner Hartley wrote.

He then organized a search group to look for Hartley, and they split up to visit shelters and share photos in hopes someone would have heard from her.

The group discovered her remains on the couple’s property over the weekend, Gardner Hartley told CNN.

Her partner believes Hartley turned back to help someone before she died, Gardner Hartley said in a statement about her sister.

“Our family has always been very close and (there has been) a strong love between us,” the statement said. “This week has been the worse days of our life. It takes your breath away when you receive the call that your little sister’s remains were found on her property and that they are still waiting for DNA verification.”

It feels, she said, “horrific.”

She remembered her sister as a “special person” from a young age, who loved hard. The two would talk often, she said, and were always “a phone call away.”

Hartley had lived on the island for 36 years, her sister said.

“My little sister has always looked for the good in people and always helped others,” Gardner Hartley added. “She will be missed by all that knew her for her fun personality, her smile and adventures.”


No More Posts Available.

No more pages to load.