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Tampa Bay-area couple flees ongoing wildfires in Maui

With no power and no cell phone reception, the couple had no idea of the scope of the disaster.

HAWAII, USA — What was supposed to be a moment of pure bliss quickly turned into a scene of horror in Hawaii as wildfires spread across Maui.

"[The trip] was for her 40th birthday, but we got engaged,” Joe Quick of Gulfport explained. 

Just a few days after proposing to Louise Brown, the couple noticed the power was out in their hotel room. 

“It's five in the morning, no power and we figured high winds. It had been 50-60 mile-an-hour winds the day before," Quick said.

Quick and Brown heard the roads were closed and wanted to see how far they could go. They hopped in their rented Jeep and drove towards Lahaina. 

"We got about two lights down and cars were just backing up and I looked at Louise, my fiancé, and said, 'Let's turn around,'" Quick explained. "'The further we get into this, we might not be able to get back,' and I looked up and you could just see the smoke starting to fill up the sky."

The two returned to their hotel room to quickly grab their belongings. According to Quick, roads were blocked but they tried to get out a few times. 

"People were basically blocked on both ends up there. You couldn't get out through Lahaina way," he said. "You couldn’t get out through the north way that night. 

"I think we literally got out the last chance we could have."

With no power and no cell phone reception, Quick said he and Brown had no idea of the scope of the disaster. 

"When I got cell phone reception, that's when all the texts started coming through from our families, ‘Are you guys okay? Where are you? We've been trying to get ahold of you,'" Quick explained. "That's when we realized...this is really very, very serious right now."

For the past three days, the Gulfport couple says they have been surrounded by people who lost everything, including some who lose those they love. 

"Everywhere we talk to locals here, they're missing friends," Quick explained. "I mean, you see the heartbreak. You see the pain in people's faces. I mean, I feel it right now."

Quick said they evacuated their home during Hurricane Ian last year – but there was a clear warning to do so.

"These people here didn't have any type of warning that this was coming," he explained. He went on to say they also received no emergency alerts about the wildfires just a few miles away.

It has been a challenge finding a flight out of Maui, but the couple found a hotel room in Wailea. Quick says they are still processing everything they have seen. 

"It's very hard to process how close we really were to something that was so, so terrifying," he said.

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