Minnesota couple shares experience of returning from honeymoon during Maui wildfires

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 7:21 PM CDT
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VADNAIS HEIGHTS, MN. (Northern News Now) - Newlyweds Blake and Olivia Nicholson began their honeymoon in Maui about a week ago.

On Tuesday, after a dry summer and strong winds, wildfires ignited and spread quickly across communities on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

RELATED: Maui reports 12 additional wildfire fatalities, bringing death toll to 67

They stayed in the Wailea area, southeast of where the wildfires began.

The Nicholsons said they went to bed the night the fires started, unaware of the disaster striking.

“It wasn’t until we woke up that we started seeing like hazy skies,” Olivia said.

“It looked much like sort of what we got down in the Cities,” added Blake.

The Nicholson’s flight home was already booked for Wednesday so getting off the island was not a problem for them, unlike many other tourists trying to leave.

In the taxi on their way to the airport, they noticed the smoky skies and saw strips of fire up the mountains.

The Nicholsons realized the intensity of the situation by talking to other travelers in the airport.

“It was pretty packed,” Olivia said. “All the seats were taken from just the different waiting areas. One woman was talking about how I think her children were in the Lahaina area and she hadn’t heard from them. So it was just kind of abuzz with people talking about concerns they had.”

Besides a few mobile alerts from neighboring towns, the Nicholsons did not receive any updates from the community officials they stayed in.

Even while engulfed in the unknown, the Nicholsons found comfort from airport employees.

“I think even though the passengers around us there was that feeling of chaos, they did a nice job of trying to act like it was all going to be okay and people were going to be able to travel freely and how they needed to,” said Olivia.

The Nicholsons felt warmth from the community during their stay and believe there is a flicker of hope, even in these dark times.

“People have a lot of love for Hawaii, and so it seems like it’s going to be a real team effort, but it’s hard to take, hard to get back those things that have been permanently damaged,” said Olivia.

RELATED: Gray and The Salvation Army team up to bring ‘Hope for Hawaii’

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