Qiana Di Bari noticed a puff of smoke close to her home on August 8, the day when Maui was engulfed in flames, and she immediately realized she and her family needed to go fires completely.
In her thriving Lahaina neighborhood, a fire had been discovered and extinguished earlier in the day. However, Di Bari began to hear reports of more flames elsewhere on the island by late afternoon. She was aware of the few resources on the island.
We realized we were on our own when I saw that fire rekindle, she continued.
She ran off with their daughter, husband, and daughter’s belongings, including their phones, crucial papers, schoolbooks, and a few clothing for each of them. “My gut just told me to run,” the woman stated. “Our neighborhood was gone in minutes.”
Amazingly, Di Bari’s house was still standing. But the Italian restaurant she and her husband run, Sale Pepe Pizzeria e Cucina, did not.
She referred to their restaurant, which was on Front Street, the main thoroughfare in Maui’s Lahaina region, as something they “just thought would be there” after seeing their house endure. Behind it was the Di Bari residence.
The blaze that ravaged Maui two weeks ago was the deadliest to hit the country in more than a century. Official estimates place the death toll at least 115 and the number of unaccounted for persons at about 850.
Those who survived had terrible losses, including those of loved ones, pets, and homes. Some people, like the Di Baris, witnessed the devastation of their enterprises.
Restaurants are a huge business in Lahaina, a popular tourist destination and historic district that was particularly heavily impacted by the fires. More than any other industry in the Kahului metropolitan region, which includes Lahaina, as of May 2022, were employed in food preparation and serving. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.5% of workers nationwide are involved in food preparation and serving.