Hawaii wildfires: The red Lahaina house that survived Maui fires
Pictures have gone viral of a single red-roofed home that appears virtually unscathed as the neighbourhood around it has been reduced to piles of ash and rubble from the Maui fires.
The 100-year-old wood house on Front Street is still standing as most of the town of Lahaina has been destroyed.
Its owners have been left wondering what spared it.
From pictures, “it looks like it was photoshopped in”, owner Trip Millikin told Honolulu Civil Beat.
The search and recovery efforts are still ongoing in Maui, with 114 confirmed deaths so far.
Officials say some 850 people are missing, but over 1,200 people who had been on the list have been found safe.
The blazes destroyed most of the historic Maui town of Lahaina and the fires are now considered the worst natural disaster in Hawaii state history.
President Joe Biden arrived in Hawaii on Monday to see the devastation.
The red-roofed home’s owners were on a trip to Massachusetts when they heard news of the fire.
Mr Millikin and his wife learnt that the whole neighbourhood had been caught in the blaze and would likely burn down. But the next morning, aerial footage showed their house was intact.
“We started crying,” he told Honolulu Civil Beat. “I felt guilty. We still feel guilty.”
Mr Millikin and his wife said they are unsure exactly what saved their home. Two years ago, the couple purchased the 100-year-old property that used to be a bookkeeper’s house for employees of a sugar plantation.
Mr Millikin and his wife said the house was in disrepair, so they sought to restore it. It may have been these renovations that saved the home, the pair told US media.
They switched out the home’s asphalt roof for one with heavy-gauge metal, surrounded the house with river stones and removed foliage around it. But none of these actions were meant to stop a blaze, they said.
“It’s a 100% wood house, so it’s not like we fireproofed it or anything,” Dora Atwater Millikin told the Los Angeles Times.
She said as the fires blazed, large pieces of wood would hit people’s roofs. “If it was an asphalt roof, it would catch on fire. And otherwise, they would fall off the roof and then ignite the foliage around the house,” she said.
She added that the home’s distance from its neighbours may have also served as a cushion.
The couple say they hope to return to Lahaina when it’s safe, and when they do, they plan to offer up their home for the many who have lost theirs.
“Many people have died,” said Ms Atwater Millikin. “So many people have lost everything, and we need to look out for each other and rebuild. Everybody needs to help rebuild.”
This article originally appeared on www.aol.com