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Man, dog camp in mail truck, half-mile from home lost in Maui wildfire

"It will never be the same," Robert Bedard, who lost his home, says as he reflects on the Hawaiian wildfire's destruction of Lahaina.
Man, dog camp in mail truck, half-mile from home lost in Maui wildfire
Posted at 12:14 PM, Aug 18, 2023

A mail truck stands out against the backdrop of the Lahaina disaster.

But there's no postal service logo, and it's not delivering mail — it's Robert Bedard’s new home.

"I was a millionaire one day because I owned the house, not because I have money in the bank or anything, but the next day after fighting the fire and trying to hold on, I'm living in a van with my dog," said Bedard.

Bedard and his dog Hope are camping out half a mile from their home, and they can't get past the police checkpoint.

"They won't let anybody go past that line," said Bedard.

He knows it is all gone, as they barely escaped death.

"It came so fast, it was unbelievable. I saw those flames whipping down, take down a whole football field in size in a matter of eight seconds," said Bedard.

SEE MORE: Here's how you can help Maui residents amid deadly wildfires

The fire moved a mile per minute, and the Maui Emergency Management Administrator, Herman Andaya, resigned following criticism over his decision not to use the island's siren network.

When asked if he regretted not sounding the alarms, Andaya said, "I do not. Even if we did, it would not have saved those people on the mountainside." 

He also said residents may have run to the mountains, thinking the alarm meant there was a tsunami, despite the obvious firestorm moving towards them. 

More cadaver dogs are now moving through the debris; there are a total of 40, but even with more assets, less than half of the disaster zone has been searched, and only a few victims have been identified.

"We've got one chance to do this right, and I'm not going to rush it; I’m sorry," said Maui County Police Department Chief John Pelletier, with hopes that the search for those remains could get up to about 85%–95% recovered by the weekend.

Bedard has accepted the fact that the town he's lived in for 50 years is gone.

"It’s going to be rebuilt, but it will never be the same; the term was 'Old Lahaina Town,' now it's going to be the new Lahaina town," said Bedard.

But he's not sure he and Hope will wait around for the new Lahaina.

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