VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A couple from Virginia Beach living in Lahaina escaped the Maui wildfires with seconds to spare.
Alexa Wright and Peter Cummings grew up in the Resort City and have spent the last several years living in Hawaii. They evacuated their neighborhood this week thinking they’d only be gone a couple of hours. When they went back to their home, nothing was left.
“It all happened pretty quickly. One minute I was putting Banyan down for a nap and then the next minute I was looking out the window because it smelled like smoke,” Wright told 10 On Your Side. “Our neighbor looked pretty frantic.”
Wright started packing a bag to head to a neighbor’s house thinking she’d return home in a few hours. She couldn’t find her keys and hopped into her neighbor’s golf cart with her 10-month-old son Banyan. Minutes later, the sky turned black and smoke surrounded the area.
They jumped back into the golf cart so they could get to a safe place.
At the same time, Wright’s boyfriend, Peter Cummings, was rushing home from the resort he worked at down the road to make sure Wright and their son got out in time.
“It was a wall of black darkness. I can’t describe it. Wall-to-wall traffic,” Cummings said. “I’m about ready to run and on the other side of the highway (and) I see a green golf cart. They’re dressed like Armageddon. My friend is driving and Lexie’s in the back all scarfed up and goggles on Banyan. It was the most surreal thing.”
Wright told 10 On Your Side the family escaped at the very last minute.
“It all happened very suddenly, but we were just grateful to get out in time,” Wright said.
The couple reunited and stopped at the nearest hotel.
“No diapers, no formula,” Cummings said. “Everybody had what they had and that was about it. We could see the blaze at night, the whole sky was glowing.”
A couple days later when Wright made her way back to her neighborhood, she found her truck partially melted and her home turned to ash.
For now, Wright, Cummings and the rest of the Maui community are taking it one day at a time. Wright’s family in Virginia Beach has started a GoFundMe to help the couple and their son rebuild.
“The support that Virginia Beach, my family, friends, my company Atlantic Diving Supply, my co-workers, my dad’s community, the Tidewater Drillers, everyone has been super generous,” Wright said. “We just want to thank everyone for their support. It means more than you know.”
Cummings said the true heroes are the locals picking up the pieces.
“It’s part of why we live here, for that aloha spirit,” Cummings said. “To see it here to all the way in Virginia, connecting, is pretty nice. Just keep spreading the good faith. Maui will be strong and it’ll always do its thing.”
Out of all the devastation, Wright told us she was most worried about Lahaina’s historic Banyan tree – which she named her son after.
Miraculously, the tree, although burnt, is still standing.