A West Hollywood bar and restaurant with close connections to Maui is holding a fundraiser later this week to help employees at its sister location in Lahaina who lost everything, including their jobs, in the devastating wildfires.
Matt Robb, co-owner of the Dirty Monkey in Lahaina and the Naughty Pig in West Hollywood, lives on Maui. He told KTLA that while he was fortunate enough that his home survived the fast-moving fires, many of his employees barely escaped the flames with their lives.
“There’s no amount of help that’s too much right now,” Robb said.
As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll from the fires has risen to 93 with officials estimating that some 4,500 people are in need of shelter. Officials in Hawaii added that nearly 2,200 structures in West Maui were destroyed, including the entire town of Lahaina.
“There is not a building standing. It is a war zone. It looks like we’ve been napalmed,” Robb explained.” The people that are with me lost everything out of the…27 team members we have, just in the front of the house of the Monkey…a little over half lost everything and had a matter of minutes to get out of their house. So, they just have the clothes on their back.”
Eight of Robb’s employees are now staying at his home after last week’s catastrophic wildfires.
“Two of my employees had to jump the seawall,” Robb said. “Others had to run as fast as they could out of town, like every which way. Some had to jump fences in neighborhoods to get out. With just the amount of winds that were blowing, flames were jumping 50 to 100 feet per time. So, imagine that if you have one house that catches on fire and then you have four houses catching on fire, people were in those homes. They’re finding remains every day.”
There are also other similar stories of survival in what has become the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than 100 years.
“Two to three hundred people were all jumping the seawall with their children, cars are exploding, the cars that catch on fire,” Lahiana resident Donnie Roxx said. “It was dark. It was four o’clock in the afternoon, looked like midnight.”
The tight-knit community is coming together and helping each other as much as possible.
“We lost everything,” Christie Gagala, another resident of Lahaina, said. “Thank God we still have each other. We’re all alive and safe and accounted for. It’s like we are the only things we have now because everything that we had in the past is gone.”
Still, as Robb explains, help cannot come fast enough.
“Everywhere that people can help and send things that you wouldn’t think of or donate is what we need right now,” he said. “We are on island and people are begging for help, but it’s just not there.”
The Naughty Pig in West Hollywood is accepting donations of everyday supplies that they will be shipping to Maui. They have also set up a GoFundMe campaign to help staff of the Dirty Monkey who lost everything in the fires. The West Hollywood bar and restaurant is also hosting a fundraiser on Aug. 17 starting at 5 p.m.