Utah native loses Maui business to fire

Aug 23, 2023, 7:27 PM | Updated: Aug 24, 2023, 7:56 am

LAHAINA, Hawaii — Makenna Kuykendall grew up in Utah before making a life for herself on Maui. Today she’s among the many who are now starting over after a wildfire destroyed much of the town of Lahaina.

“I never imagined as catastrophic as it actually was,” Kuykendall said, recounting the events of Aug. 8. “It was chaotic.”

Kuykendall says her neighborhood was initially evacuated by police in the early morning hours, but homeowners were eventually allowed back in once the fire was believed to have been contained. Around 2:30 that afternoon, she noticed flames again. By then she said firefighters left to battle another fire on the other side of the island.

“In seconds it just got huge,” Kuykendall said. “Flames just like shot all the way up and just started like ripping down the street.”

Makenna Kuykendall shot this video of the black cloud ripping across Maui

Makenna Kuykendall took video of the cloud that filled the sky during the Maui fires. (Courtesy/Makenna Kuykendall )

She said it didn’t take long before the flames got dangerously close.

“It was just like, starting to like, surround our house. And we were like, ‘we’re not even going to make it out of here,'” Kuykendall said. “We got in the car and there was just like, fire everywhere. Many homes on fire by the time we were driving down the street.”

Kuykendall, her partner and their dog were faced with a growing traffic jam as they tried to leave. The thick smoke started to surround them.

Makenna Kuykendall is shown with her partner and their dog

Kuykendall (left), her partner, and their dog escaped the fast-moving flames on Maui. (Courtesy/Makenna Kuykendall)

“It’s maybe 4 o’clock now and the whole sky is like, black. Like, it’s so black. It’s blacker than nighttime you know in the middle of the day,” Kuykendall explained.

Kuykendall along with some friends were eventually able to get out, but they quickly returned the next morning concerned that another friend was still unaccounted for.

“There were like, flare-ups everywhere,” she said. “I learned that second day that my business had burned to the ground. My whole crystal shop and the whole piercing studio that I work out of. And I didn’t have any insurance or anything.”

Kuykendall said amazingly their home was still standing but will not be liveable for some time. She said there is, however, one positive came from the harrowing experience and loss.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this much support in my life,” she said. “The community here is unlike any community I’ve ever been a part of.  People that have absolutely nothing will give you anything that they have left.”

She added that as the area was closed off by authorities and difficult to reach, it was people in the community who found ways to make sure everyone received supplies as they came in.

“I have a couple friends that are boat captains and they brought us supplies by boat,” Kuykendall explained. “They came up with their boats, and we made a daisy chain of people and people are just passing goods from the ocean onto the shore.”

While people are getting their daily supplies and essential needs now, she believes the best way to get help to many families is to reach them directly.

Kuykendall’s family has set up a GoFundMe* account for herself, her partner and her sister, who also lives on the island.

She points out there is also an Instagram page that is sharing fundraising links for the many families that are in similar situations.

Maui Strong fundraiser to help with victim relief of Hawaii wildfires

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Utah native loses Maui business to fire