MAUI, Hawaii (WJW) — A Northeast Ohio native living on Maui, says he and his wife found themselves directly in the path of the deadly wildfires. 

As the flames were spreading, Hudson native Sammy Younger and his wife Josie initially thought they were safe and that the prevailing winds would spare their home in Lahaina, but then the winds shifted and their neighborhood was quickly engulfed in fire. 

Sammy Younger told FOX 8, “the winds were do strong and any change in wind direction just pushes and fuels the fire even more, especially with no water resources in our neighborhood, there was nothing to stop it. I grabbed my wife, we grabbed our two dogs and we jumped in my truck and we made our escape.”

Photo courtesy the Younger family

Sammy Younger, a 2001 graduate of Hudson High School, says he and his wife escaped the deadly wildfires, by heading south on the island, avoiding a traffic backup caused by other evacuees trying to outrun the flames.

Like so many other Maui residents, the Youngers lost their home and nearly everything they own in the fire, including the equipment that Sammy uses in his scuba diving business.

“Shock, devastation, denial. The aerial shots came out and that’s when we could see our house, see where our house was, and see the complete devastation of our neighborhood and nothing but ashes,” said Younger.

But as the grim search for victims continues, the couple is counting their blessings.

“Feel grateful that we did make it out with each other, we made it out safely, we weren’t surrounded by flames like a lot of people were on the north side, we didn’t have to jump in the ocean to avoid the flames,” he said.

And the thoughts of the couple are with those families whose loved ones are still unaccounted for.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot, a lot of casualties, it’s going to be even more, the numbers are going to go up,” said Younger. “I can’t imagine the tragedy that other people have endured because they have it much worse than us, and our heart goes out to them.”

Younger’s parents have started a GoFundMe page to help Sammy and Josie rebuild their lives, which can be found right here.