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After a fire at their townhouse complex, a B.C. family flew to Maui — where wildfires are raging

A B.C. woman currently in Maui with her family said it has been a crazy 24 hours since landing on the island.

At least six people have died as fires have raged out of control on the Hawaiian island popular with tourists. The mayor confirmed Wednesday that homes and businesses have burned down and some communication services, including 911, have been knocked out.

Wildfires whipped up by heavy winds from hurricane Dora have raced through parts of Hawaii. Much of the historic Lāhainā is believed to be destroyed.

Tracy Robinson and her family landed at about 3:30 p.m. local time Tuesday.

“The flight was windy and bumpy, but they didn’t mention anything about wildfires or road closures or anything,” she said.

They landed, got their rental car and decided to start heading to Kaanapali.

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“And then as soon as we got on the highway, the roads were blocked,” she said. “They were turning us around. Fires were on both sides of the highway. We got turned around. We didn’t know where to go. So then we decided to try going the other way around the island.”

After driving for another hour and a half, Robinson said they were turned around again. They didn’t know where to go so she said they just headed back toward the airport.

“There wasn’t any communication,” she said. “Cellphone lines were down, there was nothing on the radio. So we just thought we would just try to wait it out.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian tourists impacted by Maui wildfires'

Canadian tourists impacted by Maui wildfires

However, Robinson said there was no information.

They were eventually told to go to Kihei, where they tried to find a hotel.

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“The rooms were about $20,000 a night, which we clearly couldn’t afford,” she said. “So then we got sent to a community centre in Kihei just to spend the night. We got there. There wasn’t any beds or anything. We were just sleeping in our cars.”

Robinson said they at least had access to bathrooms and water.

Then at 11:45 p.m. they got an emergency notification on their cellphones that they were being evacuated to another shelter in Maui.

“So we went there. Again, no beds, just water, food, bathrooms. So then we spent the night in our cars, which was quite a challenge,” Robinson said.

She said all roads were closed, power lines were down, their phones weren’t working and there was no communication.

“You just don’t know where to go,” she added.

Click to play video: 'Hawaii wildfires: Dramatic drone video shows devastation on Maui'

Hawaii wildfires: Dramatic drone video shows devastation on Maui

This is not even Robinson’s first brush with fires this week.

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On Tuesday morning, there was a fire in their Port Moody townhouse complex.

“The four units just in front of our townhouse burnt down,” she said. “We thought we were pretty lucky that we were actually leaving that night. So our place is pretty stinky and smelly, so we thought we could get away for a week. And when we came back home, the smell would be gone. But I guess the fires maybe followed us.”

That fire has been deemed suspicious.

Click to play video: 'Port Moody townhouse fire deemed ‘suspicious’'

Port Moody townhouse fire deemed ‘suspicious’

Travel expert Claire Newell said if anyone has loved ones on Maui right now they should call the airlines and book them on flights out as soon as possible.

“The worry is that these fires are in some of the most popular places in the Lahaina area and very close to Kihei, which are very dense with accommodation for travellers,” Newell said.

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“So I am worried about people getting to the airport. A lot of people have been contacting our office, trying to get out as soon as possible, and we’re finding that there is space available on some WestJet and Air Canada flights later today.

“The issue is that we’ve heard that roads are closed with emergency vehicles only and that phone services are down and 911 is down. And some people that we know are sheltering in high schools to stay away and stay safe from the fires.”

Click to play video: 'Hawaii wildfires: Flames engulf homes as west Maui residents forced to flee'

Hawaii wildfires: Flames engulf homes as west Maui residents forced to flee

For now, Robinson said it’s one step at a time.

They are hoping they can be on a flight Wednesday afternoon.

She said the best thing people can do in this kind of situation is to find out where information is being shared and do their research before leaving.

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“I would tell them to research the local news stations,” Robinson said.

“They do everything basically on Facebook pages. There’s a Maui County Facebook page, there’s a Maui 24-7, I think it’s a news Facebook page. That’s where they were doing all their updates. But we didn’t know that until we asked people where they were getting their information from.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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