When flames fanned by powerful winds rampaged into historic Lahaina Town, Jubee Bedoya sought cover in the only place that didn’t appear overwhelmed by fire. 

The life-long Lahaina resident ran for the ocean.

“We were trapped,” Bedoya said. “There was nothing we could do. That fire and wind just came so fast. There was nothing anybody could do.”

On his way into the water Bedoya encountered a family of five from California on Front Street, where traffic had been brought to a standstill as people tried to outrun the fire. Drivers in rows of three cars were trying to escape on the two-lane road.

The father handed Bedoya his 2-year-old son and they waded into the water. 

One local resident shares the terrifying moments of one of the deadliest fires in the U.S.

“When you’re in that situation of life and death, you don’t care who’s around,” Bedoya said. “You just want to try to help anybody.”

The child clinged to Bedoya’s neck for the next two to three hours, Bedoya said. He heard screaming as they floated on a piece of plywood that had flown off a store front. 

“That plywood saved our lives,” said Bedoya.  “We clung on to it. There were about six or eight of us. We floated around.”

The family and Bedoya were among the 17 people rescued by the Coast Guard. He returned to Lahaina two days later to find his neighborhood destroyed. 

The death toll in the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history reached 93 over the weekend.