California fires: Maui family evacuates twice, non profit forced to cancel event for sick kids


The death toll in the wildfire tearing through Northern California has risen to 23.

Authorities say 14 bodies were recovered Saturday, some of the victims were found in cars and in houses.

In Southern California, two people died. They were found in their burned car in Malibu.

Right now, there’s no sign of these wildfires stopping.

In two days, David Rivera and his family have been forced to evacuate twice. The Maui native perusing his dreams and moving to Paradise, California, and starting his own TV show “Rustic Rehab” with his wife on HGTV.

Everything changed on Thursday morning when the fire began. Rivera telling KHON2 that Thursday began as any other day. 

He said his wife left that morning to take their 5-year-old to school in Chico.

“You wake up and the sky is black, and your phone is blowing up and people are telling you, ‘you got to get out of here there’s a fire coming it’s a really big one,'” Rivera said. 

He said he had no time to grab any valuables. He grabbed his 2-year-old son Keoni, his 17-year-old daughter and their dog. He grabbed a photo of his family and ran out the door. 

“Within an hour, people were telling me that the town [Paradise] is all on fire already,” he said. 

Rivera says seeing the videos and photos on social media is heart-wrenching 

“People are in cars, and you have fire on both sides and you’re just going, ‘Am I going to make it out of this?’ Are we going to die right now?’ It’s absolutely horrible,” he said. 

He says the black ash is a similar sight to growing up on Maui 

“They would always burn the sugarcane and when I lived in Kihei or even Kahului, the ashes would always be coming down and it was really bad,” he said.  

“And that’s how it is right now, when you’re in Chico and even when I was evacuating out of Paradise, the ashes are just raining down on you.”

Rivera and his family were then asked to evacuate from Chico, so they did the same process they did in Paradise.  

The family is now in Sacramento waiting to hear any news about their home.

Four-hundred miles away, two more fires are devastating the Malibu area. The fire forcing the local non-profit Mauli Ola Foundation to cancel their surf experience day on Saturday with nearly 25 kids.   

“We were supposed to have a surf experience day at Malibu, but we had to cancel it due to the air-quality which is super bad for kids with Cystic Fibrosis,” said surfer Jason Magallanes. 

With Mauli Ola, pro surfers paddle out with CF kids because the salt water is good for their lungs. 

“We’re all bummed about it because the kids wait all summer long for this event, and it’s just unfortunate,” he said. 

Magallanes flew to California from Oahu the day the fires began 

“Yu look towards LA and it’s just red, the sky’s just polluted with smoke,” he said. 

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