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‘I was just trying to survive’: Teen brothers jumped into ocean to escape Hawaii wildfires

A teenager who jumped in the ocean to flee the deadly wildfires in Hawaii has said his family probably would have died if they hadn’t stuck together.

Noah Tomkinson, 19, was with his younger brother Milo, 13, and their mother in the historic town of Lahaina when the flames began to spread dangerously close.

They jumped into the Pacific Ocean where they waded in the water for five hours.

“We kind of had it in the back of our minds the whole time that we wanted to be next to the water so [when] things got really bad we could save ourselves by jumping into the ocean, and that is what it came to,” Mr Tomkinson said.


“If we’d walked across the street we would have been in the fire.”

Mr Tomkinson said he and his brother huddled around their mother to keep her warm.

“We didn’t save her, she also saved us.

“If any of us were alone I don’t know if we would have made it.

“It was the fact that all of us were together that helped us the most.”

Milo said: “I was just trying to survive, I was in survival mode.”

Once the flames had died down the family decided it was safe enough to go back to the shore.

At least 93 people have been confirmed dead after the wildfires in Hawaii – with the state’s governor warning the figure will rise.

It makes the disaster the deadliest wildfire the US has seen in the past century, surpassing the 85 who died in California’s Camp Fire in 2018.

Read more on the wildfires:
Veteran says they are worse than Afghanistan
King ‘utterly horrified’ by Hawaii wildfires
Before and after shots show impact of Maui blaze

Noah, right, and Milo Tomkinson
Noah, right, and Milo Tomkinson

Governor Josh Green told reporters it had been “an impossible day” on Saturday but that fire crews and police had been “extraordinary”.

He said it was the largest natural disaster the US state had ever faced.

It comes as workers use axes and dogs to search through charred remains of properties on Lahaina on the island of Maui.

Ruined homes are being marked with an orange X for an initial search and HR if human remains have been found.

Authorities are urging people with missing family members to give DNA samples to help authorities identify victims.


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