Woman who ran away from Hawaii wildfires tragically dies weeks later from burns

A woman who was “critically burned” while running through a field of burning grass while escaping the Hawaiiwildfires, has died after spending almost seven weeks in the ICU.

Laurie Allen died on Friday surrounded by her husband Perry Allen and other family members, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help fund the cost of her treatment.

According to the page, which had been regularly updated by her sister-in-law Penny Allen-Hood, Ms Allen “slipped away peacefully” at the Straub Medical Center in Honolulu after the ordeal.

Ms Allen, who was the 98th official victim of the fire on 8 August, suffered third-degree burns on 73 per cent of her body, according to The New York Times.

The blaze devasted historic Lahaina on the west coast of Maui. The fire was the deadliest in the US in more than a century and destroyed 2,200 buildings, most of them homes.

The fire began when strong winds appeared to cause a Hawaiian Electric power line to fall and ignite dry brush and grass. After being declared contained, the fire flared up and raced through the town.

Ms Allen had attempted to flee the blaze in her car with some neighbours, but found their way blocked by a burning tree which caused a “wall of flames” to surround her car.

According to the page, “Laurie yelled for the others to run – she heard their doors open but did not see them again. She jumped into the flames and ran about 100 yards across a field of burning grass to the main road.

“A fireman and policeman were about to evacuate when they saw her. They put out the flames on her body and took her to the Civic Center, being used by Red Cross as the Emergency Shelter.

Hawaii Wildfire (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Hawaii Wildfire (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“Laurie paid a high price for trying to help her neighbors.”

The neighbours, Conchita and Danilo Sagudang, were later listed amongst the casualties of the fire.

Mr Allen later told The New York Times that he had been able to identify his wife through the descriptions of her purple nail polish,

Over the proceeding weeks, Ms Allen endured a series of operations, including skin grafts and a tracheostomy on her throat, though in recent days her condition had worsened.

Ms Allen-Hood posted Thursday that “the battle to repair and rebuild Laurie’s earthly body” would soon be over and her sister-in-law was taken off life support on Friday.

“This ordeal touched numerous lives. For me, it was realizing how many shared concerns for Laurie — people from her childhood, her family, work colleagues, church friends, and clients at the PT Clinic she worked at,” Ms Allen-Hood wrote.

“This is a reminder that we never know how much our smile or even a simple greeting can leave an impression on others.”

According to an interview with her husband in The New York Times, Ms Allen loved the water, snorkeling and kayaking, and attended church three times a week.

“There are no words to express how deeply I will miss her,” he told the outlet, via text message.