A small act of mercy has come to light in Maui where Lahaina Church has been spared the devastation that has razed the rest of the historic town to the ground.
A video posted to TikTok shows the Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in downtown Lahaina still standing amidst the rubble.
The church, which has stood since 1846, is seen in a video posted to TikTok standing proud with its stain glass and tower structure in place even as the ground around it smolders.
Members of the church’s community took to Facebook to express their gratitude the building had been saved.
Jeffrey Chang wrote: ‘May She be the beacon of hope…to help the rest of the community.’
The Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in downtown Lahaina is seen still standing amidst the rubble
Lahaina’s banyan, near the town’s historic courthouse building, is known as the oldest living banyan tree in the US. Both the tree and the courthouse have been severely damaged.
Another user, Jeffrey Domdoma wrote: ‘May she be the beacon of hope to the people of Lahaina!!!! Praise the Lord… upon this rock I will build my church!!! come and follow me….’
Terrence Watanabe, pastor of the nearby parish of St. Anthony’s told The Pillar ‘all of Lahaina Town has been consumed by fire. It’s all gone. The church, Maria Lanakila [Our Lady of Victory], is still standing, as is the rectory. The school’s been a little bit affected.’
Speaking of the church’s local relief efforts Watanabe said ‘our bishop just got back from the meeting on the mainland… the diocese – they’re meeting today to decide what they can help with.
‘Catholic Charities here in Hawaii is also mobilizing at this point. And I think they’ve already contacted the national office for some help and support.
‘Here at St. Anthony [Parish], we’ve started a fund for people to donate to’ he added.
Lahaina’s 150-year-old banyan tree also appears to have survived the fires.
As of Friday the historic tree, with 47 trunks, was still standing albeit severely scorched from the flames.
It is not yet known whether the tree, which was imported from India in 1873, will survive.
The historic tree remains standing amid the carnage but appears badly burnt
The 150-year-old tree in Lahaina town covers almost two acres of land near the courthouse
The wildfires on Hawaii’s Big Island and Maui are known to have killed 55 as of Friday morning
Lahaina’s banyan, near the town’s historic courthouse building, is known as the oldest living banyan tree in the US.
Planted at just 8 feet tall It now stands at over 60 feet and spans nearly two acres, according to the Lahaina Town website.
The tree is a member of the fig tree family and its aerial roots drape towards the ground, which allow the tree to grow vertically and horizontally.
It is also host to hundreds of mynah birds, which were introduced to Hawaii in 1865 to control army worms.
The wildfires broke out on Tuesday, spreading quickly and ferociously. The exact cause remains unclear but high winds, dry conditions and low humidity exacerbated the flames.
As of Friday morning fifty-five people have been confirmed dead and 1,000 remain missing three days on from the blaze.
A massive search and rescue mission is now underway and cadaver dogs have also been brought in to help search for bodies among the ruins.
In an interview this morning, the Mayor of Maui County said the bodies found so far have all been discovered in the street, outside properties. Search teams have not yet begun pulling bodies from homes and businesses.
An unknown number of people are also thought to have perished in their cars while trying to escape the hellish flames.