Las Vegas Comic Survives Hawaiian Deadly Wildfire – Report

Posted on: August 11, 2023, 03:33h. 

Last updated on: August 11, 2023, 10:48h.

A Las Vegas-based performer visiting Maui was able to escape to Honolulu this week after a wildfire struck the western portion of the devasted Hawaiian island.

Flames and smoke on Maui
Flames and smoke spread on the Hawaiian island of Maui, pictured above. A Las Vegas-based comedian evacuated from the impacted region. (Image: Honolulu Magazine)

Comedian/hypnotist Don Barnhart was on the island paradise for a show when the deadly fire ignited and quickly spread. His comedy performance planned for Sunday at Da Playground Maui in Wailuku was canceled.

Electricity, cell phone, and internet service went out for days as a result of the blaze. But eventually, Barnhart and his wife made it to safety.

It’s just starting to hit us, that oh my God,” he told Las Vegas TV station KLAS. “We were two miles away from where the fire was.”

At that impacted location, people jumped into a harbor to protect themselves from the fast-moving flames.

Faced Death

“We looked at each other and went ‘okay,’” Barnhart added. “If this is our time, we’ve been blessed with a wonderful life, and we’ll die together.”

Barnhart previously expected to open a comedy club on Maui. Those plans have now been shelved after the site was destroyed by the wildfire.

Back on the mainland, Barnhart often performs at the Delirious Comedy Club in Las Vegas. He’s also scheduled to perform on Norwegian Cruise Line ships later this year.

Barnhart realizes the devasting fires are no laughing matter, and is looking toward the future following his harrowing brush with Mother Nature.

“Grateful we’re alive and counting our blessings,” he tweeted late this week.

53 Perish

As of Friday morning, 53 people in Hawaii had perished as a result of the wildfire, CNN reported, with the town of Lahaina being particularly hard hit.

“We will continue to see loss of life,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green predicted on Thursday. “Lahaina, with a few rare exceptions, has been burned down. Without a doubt, it feels like a bomb was dropped on Lahaina.”

Some 11,000 people on Maui remained without power as of Thursday night. Many were forced to move to shelters or find other temporary housing.

The fire began on Tuesday and dry conditions and strong winds caused the blaze to spread. Since then, firefighters have made progress in battling the blaze, which was 80% contained as of early Friday.

The wildfire surprised island residents. An emergency siren system did not activate, the Associated Press reported.

Red Cross Responds

Nevada residents and businesses are donating to charities to help impacted residents of Hawaii. The two states have a close relationship, with travel between Nevada and Hawaii being very popular. And on Friday, Barb Kramer, a disaster relief volunteer of the American Red Cross of Northern Nevada, is scheduled to leave for Hawaii, according to Reno TV station KRNV.

Kramer, who has provided aid in disasters some 20 times over a decade, will remain in Maui for at least three weeks.