Lahaina, Maui Wildfires & the Hammonds of Moab

The island of Maui was ravaged by wildfires in August 2023, destroying the cultural center of the island, Lāhainā.

“Hawaii National Guardsmen deploy to Maui County to aid in search efforts,” photo by Master Sgt. Andrew Jackson [Wikimedia Commons]

While our towns are far apart, our histories are intricately tied together. 

Our thoughts are with the families of Lāhainā who have lost family members, friends, their community, their homes in the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

This hurricane-fueled wildfire claimed 99 lives and over 1,000 additional individuals are still missing at the time of this publishing [Aug. 15, 10AM MDT]. Over 1,000 buildings were lost in this historic blaze, which occurred square in the middle of Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month recognized in Utah, as many fled the rapidly encroaching flames by jumping into the sea or taking shelter behind sea walls. 

Lāhainā was once part of the royal kingdom of Hawai’i. Lāhainā has long been home to some of the most culturally significant sites and properties. We join with their residents in mourning the loss of nearly all cultural institutions in the town. Sites such as Lāhainā Heritage Museum at the Old Courthouse and the Waiola Church were among those lost; the church had stood for 200 years at the center of the community, which used to be a gathering place for the residents of the island. 

Lāhainā first became the home of Francis A. Hammond after a whaling accident left him with a broken back in 1884. Hammond went on to work as a cordwainer for the local community until he recovered and returned to the mainland in 1847. Francis Hammond would return in 1851 accompanied by his family in 1851; his wife Mary would welcome two more sons while living in Lāhainā, Samuel Smith Hammond in 1853 and Moab founder Fletcher Bartlett Hammond Sr. in March of 1855.

Fletcher B. Hammond was named after two of Francis’ uncles, John Fletcher and Sandford Bartlett Hammond and went on to become proprietor of Hammond & Co. Mercantile est. 1894, and later, Hammond & Sons, Co. Hammond also was one of the owners of Moab Light and Power Company, which serviced the residents of the town of Moab around 1918.

Hammond Meat Market, Moab, UT, 1918. [Moab Museum Collection]

Learn more about the Hammond family and their Pacific Island connections in Fletcher B. Hammond’s profile.

How we can help:

Donate directly to the Moab Strong Fund from the Hawai’i community foundation:

Maui Ola: A benefit concert for Maui

Sunday, August 20, 2023 – 10pm (MST)
Stand with Maui, wherever you are from. Show your support by heading to the concerts on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i island. Tune in on TV, on, on social media, on the radio. Invite family and friends to join you. Share the calls for support with everyone you know. Let’s send Maui our strength, support, and aloha. Donate.

The American Red Cross is providing thousands of evacuees with a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support as they navigate through this difficult situation. 
And learn about the many ways to support relief efforts here: