Amid the rubble that is now Lahaina stands one seaside home, left untouched by the devastating fires that desecrated the town on Maui.
The home’s owners, Dora Atwater Millikin and her husband Dudley Long Millikin III, recently made relatively minor adjustments to the $4million house that may have been the keys to its preservation.
Aerial photos show the red-roofed home with a bright white façade still in seemingly pristine condition, against the grey-toned, ashen landscape by which it is surrounded. The fire’s death toll is currently tallied at 114, with the number expected to continue rising.
‘It’s a 100 percent wood house so it’s not like we fireproofed it or anything,’ Dora told the LA Times.
But the couple did recently replace the asphalt roof with a heavy-gauge metal one, and cut down on foliage surrounding the home in order to reduce the risk of termites spreading to the house.
Atwater Millikin, 63, said none of the changes that were made were done with the idea of fireproofing in mind – but it was these changes that ultimately saved it from ruin.
Aerial photos show the red-roofed home with a bright white facade still in seemingly pristine condition, against the grey-toned, ashen landscape by which it is surrounded
Dora Atwater Millikin said she and her husband recently made relatively minor renovations that likely prevent the massive fire from destroying the house
‘When all this was happening, there were pieces of wood – six, 12 inches long – that were on fire and just almost floating through the air with the wind and everything,’ she said.
‘They would hit people’s roofs, and if it was an asphalt roof, it would catch on fire. And otherwise, they would fall off the road and then ignite the foliage around the house.’
Roofs are the primary factor contributing to a home’s flammability, because they are the largest surface area upon which embers can land.
The couple were visiting family in Massachusetts when the fire began a week-and-a-half ago.
Atwater Millikin and her husband have lived on Maui for close to 10 years, and bought the house about three years ago. She is an artist whose paintings focus on New England coastal scenery, and he is a recently retired portfolio manager.
A day after the fire, the county called the Millikins to inform them their house had survived. Since then many have dubbed their home a ‘miracle house’.
News of the latest death toll was announced Saturday. Around 1,000 people remain missing – and on Friday, DailyMail.com spoke to officials who say they expect the final number of people killed to be around 500.
Governor Josh Green has said he doesn’t want to make guesses about the final death toll, but he believes the count will continue to climb by some ten people a day for the next few weeks.
The house, which opens up to an extensive lower level and backyard on the ocean-facing side, is shown here with its previous roof
On the left, the now red-roofed home is seen along the desecrated shoreline of Lahaina
Aerial view showing a fire truck driving through destruction caused by the wildfire in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
Cars and buildings marked with an ‘X’ can be seen throughout the city to indicate that they have been searched, but hundreds more remain to be inspected
As the dust settles on the tragedy and scores of burned out buildings and charred remains are emerging, questions have been raised over Hawaii’s emergency preparedness for wildfires
Search operations continue in Lahaina, as hope fades that any survivors will be found – as some 1,300 people remain missing
The devastating wildfires burned down over 2,200 buildings in the town of Lahaina, and questions have been raised over whether Hawaiian Electric – the island’s main power supplier – was warned about the potential fires before they erupted.
The company is also accused of failing to adopt emergency contingency plans used by other providers, such as cutting off power when there is a risk of fire.
Investigators are still combing through the rubble in Lahaina, and FEMA officials said on Sunday they have searched approximately 78 percent of the affected area.
Dramatic footage captured the moment that one of the wildfires on Maui may have been sparked. Video shows a powerline gong down during a storm, which could have started the tragic fire.
The video, captured at the Maui Bird Conservation Center, near Makawao, appears to show a bright flash in the woods at the exact time ten sensors recorded a significant incident in Hawaiian Electric’s grid on August 7.
Whisker Labs, a company that uses a sensor network to monitor electric grids across the United States, told The Washington Post the bright light was probably an ‘arc flash’, which happens when a power line ‘faults.’
Aerial view of people taking part in a community paddle out for the victims of the Lahaina wildfires in Honolulu on August 19
On Saturday, a 500-person paddle out took place in Waikiki as Honolulu residents showed their support for those impacted by the fire
The relatively last-minute event drew a massive crowd of mourners and those looking to help
Aerial view of destruction caused by the wildfire in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. 14 August, 2023. The death toll has risen to 114 and is expected to keep climbing
On Saturday, a 500-person paddle out took place in Waikiki as Honolulu residents showed their support for those impacted by the fire.
The relatively last-minute event drew a massive crowd of mourners and those looking to help.
‘Lahaina its just it’s like apocalyptic ground zero action and the smell is gnarly, the energy of the people has been amazingly strong and resilient and I give them a lot of credit for banning together the way they have,’ said Duane Desoto, the CEO of Na Kama Kai, the company that organized the event.
Deanne Criswell, the director of FEMA, said Sunday that she hopes Biden’s visit to Maui on Monday will provide a sense of ‘hope and reassurance’
Spokespeople for Joe Biden’s administration have said the president will visit Maui on Monday, while already on the West Coast for a family vacation at the $18million home of former presidential candidate Tom Steyer.
Deanne Criswell, the director of FEMA, said Sunday that she hopes Biden’s visit will provide a sense of ‘hope and reassurance.’
‘He’s [Biden] also going to be able to talk with people and hear their stories and provide a sense of hope and assurance that the federal government is going to be with them as he has directed,’ Criswell told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Sunday morning.
‘I think the biggest thing is he’s going to be able to see what I saw when I went to Maui last week and just really experience the complete and utter devastation that this town had experienced,’ she added.