Travelers are returning to the Los Angeles area from Maui, where devastating wildfires continue to burn, claiming at least 53 lives.
Evacuations of thousands of visitors continued Thursday as Hawaii search and rescue teams were out in devastated areas.
The fires, which started Tuesday, were fueled by a strong winds from a passing hurricane.
Travelers were taken by surprise as fires burned through dry brush in the popular tourist and historic town of Lahaina.
As of Wednesday, 2,000 travelers were sheltering at an airport on the island trying to return home.
Several flights arrived at LAX Thursday morning, with more scheduled throughout the day.
Some told KTLA they cut their trip short. Some indicated they were without food and power on the island.
Travelers described the airport in Maui as chaotic as people tried to leave.
Sam Lloyd, who lives in Brentwood, was able to get out before conditions got even worse.
“We saw terrible winds and trees crushing cars, and there were fire trucks everywhere” she said. “We realized we should try to get out of that part of that town for a while … it was hard to get onto the highways, there were cones blocking, but people had moved cones and we were able to get out. And probably a few hours later is when it got really bad.”
Kurt Lieber, of Ventura, described the ocean as “insane” because of strong winds.
“Usually you’re seeing blue waters in the seas, it was pure white, There were so many white caps out there, it looked like snow,” Lieber said. “The winds came and it just blew that fire all over the place, it was really devastating.”
Wally Ali, of L.A., said officials in Hawaii were not prepared for such a disaster.
“They couldn’t clear the roads, there were power lines all over, just destroyed,” Ali said. “No food, it’s crazy, man.”
Airlines are stepping up to help stranded travelers. Southwest Airlines added additional flights between the islands, and back to the mainland Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
United Airlines canceled flights to Kahului Airport in Maui so planes can be used to bring passengers back to the mainland, officials tweeted.