Skip to Content

How a Front Street roadblock obstructed Lahaina’s evacuation

By Jeremy Lee

Click here for updates on this story

    LAHAINA, Hawaii (KITV) — A local window washer, commuting to work at a Kaanapali hotel on Aug. 8, published a viral video of the moment he abandoned his car on Front Street.

The footage has been viewed over a million times on YouTube, as it shows how Maui Police roadblocks obstructed those who self-evacuated in the critical afternoon hours.

Jonathan Herzog encountered roadblocks in the morning, and filmed a critical roadblock down this way, where the north end of Front Street meets Honoapiilani Highway.

It all started on his commute from Kihei.

“And as I got into Lahaina, they were redirecting us all around through these back streets and branches were coming down,” Herzog told Island News.

On his way to Kaanapali, Herzog started filming as he entered town, sensing unusual conditions.

“The winds were the worst winds I’ve ever been in in my life,” Herzog detailed.

When he was later heading home through Lahaina town just before 3 p.m., he hit this roadblock on the southbound highway at Kapunakea before the Cannery Mall.

Herzog backtracked to where Front Street meets the highway. Traffic moved well enough at that time to rejoin the highway near Lahainaluna here at 3.02 p.m.

But then, Herzog said, traffic snarled with downed trees and crews working to the south.

“Then I ended up turning around and trying to go north again, thinking, well, at least I’ll get out of Lahaina,” he said.

But to the north, the gridlock was worse, he says, so he detoured over on Baker and then south again on Wainee.

At 3:19 p.m., his camera shows a police vehicle blocking access to the highway at Papalaua. But nothing had eased up, so without GPS, he heads north to look for an open route. His first view of the fire at 3:24 p.m. on the hillside, and just before 4 p.m., he ends up in this line of cars on Front Street in gridlock.

“My goal is to get into the Kingdom Hall parking lot,” Herzog documented to his camera, as he sat in traffic. “I just sat there, I think it was a good 25 minutes, something like that.”

“Holy cow, dude. So now the smoke is virtually blocking out the light,” Herzog remarks on his video at one point during his wait.

“I am gonna make my way down to the water,” he declares, opening the door to his car.

At 4:26 p.m., Herzog abandoned his car at Kingdom Hall and walked to Mala Wharf.

“It was obvious the fire was out of control, so that’s when I decided to leave the vehicle completely,” Herzog told Island News.

Passing vehicle after vehicle, he noticed of those on the bridge…

“All of those cars were still sitting there, just same exact spots,” Herzog said.

Island News previously reported on the other side of the Cannery Mall that Herzog passed by in the 4 p.m. hour. The highway was completely shut down for two and a half hours at Keawe Street until at least 5:24 p.m. — traffic routed towards Front Street.

At 5:30 p.m., Herzog comes to the end of Front Street and to his surprise:

“It looks like two police vehicles parked kind of nose to nose at that exit for Front Street, kind of at a V like this. The traffic had basically bottlenecked right there,” Herzog said. “So there were cars in both lanes trying to go north by this point, but everyone was stopped on Front Street right there.”

As the local window washer walked past the gridlock, heading north on foot, at 5:33 p.m. motorists had been fleeing into the water, as seen in Noah Tomkinson’s video, one mile to the south of the Front Street roadblock, near Baker Street — two blocks south of where Herzog had abandoned his car.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content