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North Bay wildfire survivors evacuate during honeymoon in Maui

A Santa Rosa couple who survived the 2017 Tubbs fire, was on their honeymoon in Maui when they were forced to evacuate.

Courtney Frazer and Aldo Vargas tied the knot on August 4.

On August 7, they flew to Maui. The couple noticed the strong winds when they landed.

They said they were aware of two fires already burning on the island. But they were told they were a good distance away at their hotel in Kaanapali.

Around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, their hotel lost power. Because of that, the hotel couldn’t serve food.

The couple went to the grocery store to buy supplies.

“While we were actually at the cash register buying groceries, Aldo got an evacuation order on his phone for Lahaina,” said Frazer. “Neither of us had ever been to Maui, or anywhere in Hawaii for that matter. So we weren’t familiar with the area at all. We asked the grocery store clerk if we should be concerned where that was. She told us ‘no’ and that it was a 10 or 15 minute drive away.”

The couple went back to their hotel and began to get concerned.

“We could see the smoke from our hotel room. That’s when we decided to pack our car just in case we really needed to go. I think having that experience knowing how fast fire travels from the Santa Rosa fires was helpful.”

Frazer lived in Petaluma during the Tubbs Fire. Vargas lived in Santa Rosa and was evacuated. The couple said they took turns sleeping in the hotel lobby Tuesday night, trying to learn what they could.

They had heard both roads were closed, but Wednesday heard one road was back open.

So they headed for the airport, driving around the island.

“It was chaotic, really,” Vargas said. “We got only one text alert and that was on Tuesday. That was the first and last one We didn’t have anything else. There was no communication, even between locals and their families. No cell phone signal. No updates about the fire. No anything like that.”

“We were trying to get ahold of our families to let them know we were safe,” Frazer said.

Once they got to the airport, they couldn’t find a get a flight off Maui. So they slept in their rental car Wednesday night.

On Thursday, they were able to fly to Honolulu. But flights back to the Bay Area were so expensive, they ended up flying back to Maui and returning home on their originally scheduled flight. The pair landed at Oakland late Friday night.

“We’re just so grateful to be home and that we’re safe,” said Frazer. “We can take a trip anytime. Right now, we want to do what we can to help the people in Maui.”


Source: NBC Bay Area

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