Hawaii

‘Devastating': Flight from Hawaii arrives to Boston amid raging wildfires on islands

The last official death count from these fires stands at 53, with officials fearing that number will continue to climb

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An emotional reunion was on full display at Logan Airport on Thursday morning as passengers who were onboard a flight from Honolulu landed in Boston, amid raging wildfires in the island paradise.

Lauren Pardue’s long-awaited homecoming was met with a surprise at the arrivals gate by her friends holding welcoming signs.

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Purdue had spent over a year living in O’ahu, near Hawaii’s capital. 

The Boston native boarded a flight from Honolulu just in time, as travelers try to flee the islands from spreading wildfires.

The Lahaina fire was still active as of Friday.

“It was crazy. The airport’s been very packed,” said Pardue. “It’s absolutely devastating.”

For the past two days, flames – fueled by hurricane Dora’s strong winds – have grown across the island of Maui and in parts of Hawaii Island.

The wildfires have devastated communities, burning down some 300 homes and buildings, including in the historic town of Lahaina.

“I see all this on TikTok and on the news and I’m seeing people -- and I’m seeing bodies on the floor and fires, and it’s just heartbreaking,” she said.

Dozens of cots lay across a Maui high school gym-turned-shelter, where evacuees took respite.

While airports are seeing an influx of stranded travelers, who are hoping to get on the next flight out of the Pacific islands.

“We were a little worried because we didn’t take off on time,” said Lou Soracco who made it back to Boston after spending a week on the Big Island.

The fires in Lahaina, fueled by strong winds from Hurricane Dora, have made the historic town unrecognizable.

“This is on such a mass scale that I don’t even think our state knows how to handle anything like this,” said O’ahu native Jonathan Lee.

The military has been deployed to help battle the flames and with search and rescue efforts, after some residents reportedly jumped into the ocean trying to escape the fires.

And while tourists try to find a way out – for locals, the devastation is now sinking in.

“Hawaii is a small island community. We’re really close and so when one person hurts everyone hurts,” said Lee.

The last official death count from these fires stands at 53, with officials fearing that number will continue to climb.

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