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Some Maui residents question why they weren't told to evacuate as wildfire flames got closer

Maui resident describes fleeing wildfires
Maui resident describes fleeing devastating wildfires, says he wasn't told to evacuate 04:59

In the wake of devastating wildfires that have destroyed parts of the picturesque island of Maui, residents are voicing their frustrations and concerns about not being told to evacuate.

JD Hessemer, a Maui resident and co-owner of Kohola Brewery in Lahaina, said he had to make the difficult decision to evacuate without official guidance due to the worsening conditions and the lack of power. 

"I received nothing at no point in time. I got nothing on my phone," Hesseemer told "CBS Mornings" on Friday. 

Hawaii emergency management records show no indication that warning sirens were triggered before devastating wildfires killed at least 55 people.

Hessemer said he had driven to work Tuesday morning and encountered escalating winds and fallen powerlines that forced him to take an alternate route from his usual path.  

Once he got to the brewery, he and his employees decided that remaining on-site for the day would be unsafe due to a widespread power outage and extensive damage to powerlines. He said that one of his colleagues stayed behind to complete a task but eventually also evacuated before the fire reached the brewery and destroyed it. 

High temperatures and wind gusts put much of Hawaii under a red flag warning for fire risk when the wildfires broke out, but the exact cause of the blaze is still unknown.

"It's not an exaggeration, it is — you can't imagine even from the pictures. Everything is gone. There's nothing much," he said.  

Hessemer said the once-thriving town of Lahaina, which was a vibrant hub for weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations, now lies in ruins. 

"'Devastation' is something I think I've said a lot. I don't think it's the correct word because it's, it's beyond that," he said. 

Hessemer said now is the time for the world to step in and support the people of Lahaina as they need to rebuild. 

"We need a little kindness. We need some help. But we also need some time," Hessemer said.   

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