HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A UTRGV basketball player and his family were vacationing in Hawaii when the recent wildfires erupted.
As of Friday evening, the death toll in the Maui disaster rose to 67 people.
Isaiah Barganier is a sophomore forward for the Vaqueros men’s basketball team.
He said the fires started after they had only been there one full day.
“We started seeing that fire start forming about two miles from us. And I told my parents, I’m like, that’s going to be bad,” Barganier said.
Barganier says likes to vacation there with his family when he can get the time off from school.
This is his second time visiting.
“We decided to get down here for a little bit. Just enjoy the beautiful water and the weather and stuff like that. But circumstances change,” he said.
The Barganier family planned to spend four or five days in Hawaii. After the first day there, power went out at the resort where they were staying.
The fires eventually forced them to leave the area.
“At three o’clock in the morning, about two days ago, we had to evacuate. And we had to go to the Red Cross shelter that they have down here,” Barganier said.
Even though the Barganier family has been displaced, they tried to help other victims any way they could.
“We had a rental car. So we were going around giving out snacks and stuff like that. Kind of being volunteers. Kind of just doing god’s work. Just being fortunate enough to help others,” Barganier added.
After hearing about the fires, his teammates reached out to make sure he was safe.
Barganier assured his team he was okay and would make it back to safety soon.
Speaking from an airport, on his way to leave the islands, he said, “It’s a little chaotic here. But at least we made it though. It definitely took a little while to make it over here. At least we’re here, with all these people. We’re all safe here.”
Barganier said he and his family tried to keep a positive attitude throughout the ordeal. He credited his mother with keeping everyone together.