A Palm Desert man was evacuated due to the deadly fires while vacationing in Maui.
“A power outage saved our life," said Joe Wallace.
When the lights went out for Wallace at his timeshare in Maui, he didn’t think too much of it.
Little did he know, it was due to the fires that were raving the town of Lahaina just 4 miles away from him.
“And somebody sees the smoke. And he says it's a fire, it's coming for us. And it was mass panic. You know, people took off, ran into grab their stuff out of the rooms and get in the cars. And then we were told the road to go through Lahaina on the bypass to go back to the airport was closed because of the fire.”
Wallace works and lives in the desert as the CEO of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. At least once a year for nearly 40 years, he and his family visit Maui.
”I've probably spent two years of my life in the Lahaina area. And so yeah, it's it is our second home," Wallace said.
Due to lack of cellphone reception, Wallace was unaware of the damage that we being done just miles away from him. Once he was able to get online, he was shocked.
“There's stores that we were in two days before, it's ash. There's nothing there. So we didn't come to grips with what was going on, until we started having contact from the outside world.”
That’s when Wallace and his wife decided to leave the island as soon as they could.
“Looked at each other and said you know I think are places to go back to California. We're just in everybody's way here," he said.