The remains of 114 people have been found, most of them still unidentified.
LAHAINA, Hawaii – The days of waiting are getting harder and harder as the odds grow longer, but Kevin Baclig remains undaunted in his search for his wife and parents, missing since August 8 when there’s a forest fire submerge and flatten Hawaiian town of Lahaina.
He searched from shelter to shelter, hoping strangers would recognize the faces on the leaflets he carried. Baclig, 30, has driven back and forth from Lahaina, desperately searching for anything that might lead him to his wife, Angelica, and her parents, Joel and Adela Villegas. Six other relatives who lived next door were also missing.
“I won’t give up until I see them,” he said. “Of course I hope to find them alive. … What else can I do?”
Even as he tries to sound upbeat, his voice is subdued.
“I searched and searched – in Lahaina, everywhere,” said Baclig, speaking in Ilocano, a dialect of the northern Philippines.
fire took many lives And destroy hundreds of housesincluding the house the Bacligs bought three years ago on Kopili Street, about a 15-minute walk from historic Front Street, once a bustling tourist hub but now a dreary boulevard lined with buildings Leveled house with charred cars.
The remains of 114 people were found, most of them undetermined yet. Hawaii Governor Josh Green said the death toll is likely to rise in the coming days as the painstaking search for remains continues in the rubble and ash in Lahaina, a coastal community of 12,000 people and a tourist hotspot on Maui.
Officials admit they do not have a firm figure on who is missing. Many people originally listed as missing have since been located.
Earlier this week, Sheriff John Pelletier said authorities would do their best to track down the missing people. “But I can’t promise we’ll get it all,” he said.
On the day before the fire, Po’omaika’i Estores-Losano, a 28-year-old father of two, wished aloha to his ohana, the Hawaiian word for family. “Another beautiful day in Hawaii,” he wrote on Facebook, ending his post by urging his community to “have fun, enjoy” and never be “sad and grumpy.”
He is among the scores still missing on Saturday. His family scoured the island looking for him, checking hospitals and shelters. Without a car, Estores-Losano would have to make its way through the fire.
“We don’t want him to think we’ve stopped looking for him,” said Ku’ulei Barut, who last spoke to his brother the day before he went missing.
His mother, Leona Castillo, wanted to keep her son alive, but she knew she might face a reality she wasn’t ready to accept. Last week, as the talk about the body count increased, she took a sample of her DNA.
She wants him to be found, no matter how or where.
“We don’t want him to be lost,” she said. If we don’t get his body back, he will be lost.”
Days after the fire, chaos and confusion, with so many families searching for missing loved ones. Castillo said she is relieved that friends and neighbors have been reunited with loved ones.
But she wondered when her turn would come.
“I just want to close the door,” she said.
Ace Yabes is also awaiting news of his loved ones – nine of all are missing, including Angelica Baclig, whose family lives next to an aunt and her family, five in their number has yet to be found.
Kevin Baclig was working as a nurse at a skilled nursing facility when the fire spread down the hill into town, consuming nearly everything in its path.
“I searched all the shelters, hotels, possible places they could go – I went to all of them. I went to their friends’ houses,” he said. “I reported them missing to the MPD (Maui Police Department), to the FBI. I showed their photos.”
Baclig, who was staying with friends at Kahalui on the island’s northern slopes, raised hopes in his search.
It’s possible that in their haste to flee, no one had time to grab a cell phone – which might explain why Baclig hasn’t received a call yet. Perhaps they are also looking for him and are unsure of his whereabouts.
In the midst of suffering and uncertainty, and at the end of his efforts, he continued to pray for help.
“Lord, guide me in everything,” he wrote Thursday on Facebook. “I do not know what to do.”