One Home Remains Miraculously Untouched Through Devastating Maui Fires

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Nov 15, 2023

Though the recent wildfires desecrated much of the Hawaiian island of Maui, one home miraculously came out unscathed.

Though every home and tree around it has been completely decimated by the flames, one incredibly lucky home that people are now calling ‘The Red House That Survived Hawaii Wild Fires,’ is still completely intact.

The Maui Wildfires

On August 8, 2023, wildfires spread across the Hawaiian island of Maui, quickly destroying more than 1,700 homes and the incredible natural landscape.


Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Because of a recent drought on the island, the conditions were extremely dry. This enabled the flames to spread so rapidly that an estimated 2,170 acres have been burned to a crisp.


How Did the Red House Withstand the Fires?

Amidst thousands of homes and businesses burned to the ground, one home miraculously survived the destruction. In photos, it’s clear that the homes, trees, and lawns surrounding the home were scorched, so many people are wondering: How did the red house survive?


Source: YouTube

In an interview, homeowner Pattie Tamura told the media that she believes her house survived because of its unique construction. Her grandfather, who built the home, supposedly used cement (which is not the norm on Maui) in order to prevent bugs and dry rot.

Most Maui Houses Are Built Out of Wood

It’s important to understand that unlike California and the Pacific Northwest, wildfires are extremely rare on the island of Maui. So, for generations, family homes and businesses have been constructed out of softwood lumber.


Source: Douglas Peebles/Corbis/Getty Images

While this construction tactic has served the island well for decades, when the fires started to spread, almost every lumber-made house went up in flames in mere seconds. Tamua explained that her grandfather is to thank for the survival of their cement home; ‘I’m sure it survived because of his knowledge and his construction skills.”

The Red House Wasn’t the Only Building Unscathed

While the Red House has made the news for surviving the fires, it’s not the only building in the area to do so.


Source: Brown Pelican

The Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina also survived the deadly fires, which many are seeing as a symbol of hope during this incredibly difficult time. Though the wooden roof did suffer some damage, the steeple still stands proud.

Catholics Calling the Maui Church a “Miracle”

Lahaina’s Maria Lanakila Catholic Church serves almost 800 families and hosts six masses every Sunday. And for many Maui partitioners and residents of the area, the survival of the church is seen as nothing short of a miracle.

Source: CatholicNewsAgency

Vicar of Maui and Lanai, Monsignor Terrence Watanabe, told the media that, “For us, it’s like a miracle. When we saw the news and saw the church steeple rise above the town, it was a great sight to see.”


Did Any Other Buildings Survive?

Not all of Maui burned; in fact, there are several areas on the island that remained completely untouched during the fires. However, in those areas affected, specifically the town of Lahaina, almost every home and business burned.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There are a few homes that survived (or at least will be able to be rebuilt) in Lahaina, but none are as well preserved as the now-famous Red House.


Understanding the Maui Fires

Although many find hope in the survival of the church and the Red House, the truth is that the Maui wildfires were the worst natural disaster Hawaii has ever seen and the deadliest wildfires in US history.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The island itself is over 465,000 acres, and only 2,000 acres were burned, but the area affected was one of the most densely-populated on all of Maui.


Death Toll Rises Above 100

The fires are all put out, but that doesn’t mean the tragedy is over. There are an estimated 388 people still missing, and reports state that at least 115 people have been confirmed dead.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Families and rescue teams are still desperately trying to find the missing men, women, and children weeks after disaster struck. Sadly, even after the searches are complete, these families will have to start rebuilding their homes and businesses and, really, rebuilding their entire lives.


Maui’s Beloved Banyan Tree Not Spared

The people of Maui are undoubtedly feeling the significant loss of their neighbors, loved ones, homes, and businesses, but they are also grieving the loss of their beautiful landscape.

Source: Harvey Meston/Getty Images

And that includes the incredible Banyan tree that once stood tall in the center of Lahaina. The gigantic tree spanned an almost unbelievable 1.94 acres and rose more than 60 feet in the air. It was made up of 16 connected trunks and was the largest banyan tree in the entire country.


Examining the Aftermath

From aerial photos, one can see the blackened banyan tree in the center of Lahaina. Once a symbol for the ancient Hawaiian capital, the tree is now just another victim of the merciless blaze.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Though experts have said that it is possible for the tree to grow back if the roots remain intact, it will take decades for the tree to return to its former size and glory.


Maui Starts to Recover

Rescue workers and residents of the island are currently working tirelessly to find the 388 missing people. But once the search is completed, inhabitants will still have an incredible amount of work to do to restore their homes and businesses.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It will take Maui residents years to recover from this horrible disaster. It’s truly hard to imagine that the island and, specifically, Lahaina will ever be the same, though many are holding onto the hope that one day, it will.