Family finding way forward in wake of fire

A Kihei family trying to forget about its home and belongings lost in a fire last month is receiving help from businesses and organizations as it begins to build a “new life” from the ashes.

On June 23, Liezel Cambe and her family were displaced from the multifamily home they were renting on Humupea Place in Kihei by the fire. The rooms in the 2,256-square-foot property were gutted, leaving Cambe, her 10-year-old son, 15-year-old daughter and boyfriend without any of their belongings.

“I’m still kind of shocked with what’s happened to us,” she said. “I want to move on, but it comes back every time. I’m just trying to forget everything . . . but it’s really hard.

“I’m trying not to remember, and I don’t want my children to remember because I don’t know what I’m going to (say) to them.”

Cambe and her family, though, have not been left to fend for themselves. Cambe’s new employer, Andaz Maui at Wailea, has lent a hand.

Last weekend, the hotel owned by Hyatt Hotels Corp. held a fundraiser for Cambe’s family, inviting more than 120 guests to a dinner buffet at the Kahili Golf Course Restaurant.

“Kahili was gracious enough to donate 15 percent of their revenues to the family, and we also were able to get cash donations from individuals that showed up,” said Michael Stephens, general manager of the Wailea hotel. “(The family is) still very much distraught over things, but they were grateful we had some support going for them.”

“When I saw all the people, it was amazing,” Cambe said. “A lot of people and ohana came that night, so I’m thankful. It really makes me feel better; my family, my sister, my friends all came, so thank you to them.”

Cambe, who was hired as a full-time housekeeper at the hotel, was to begin work the day after the fire. Stephens said that she was part of an opening service team to prepare the hotel for its grand opening next month.

“My boss said, ‘It’s OK, you don’t have to go to work yet.’ But I want to go back tomorrow already so I don’t think too much,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I want to keep myself busy.”

The Red Cross has provided assistance to Cambe’s family with housing and money for groceries the past couple weeks. The family of four is currently living in housing through the hotel at a Maui Meadows guesthouse in Kihei.

“We obviously haven’t been in the community that long, but we wanted to help get her back on her feet again,” Stephens said. “We were excited to hire her and now she’s a part of our ohana.

“But it didn’t matter to us if she had just started or if she’d been with us for years, we just wanted to help support her any way possible.”

Although the family has found refuge since the fire, their residence with the hotel is only temporary, and Cambe is worried about whether her son, Joshua Agapay, and daughter, April Joy Agapay, will be able to continue to attend their respective schools, Lokelani Intermediate and Maui High schools.

“It’s going to be hard for us to move again, but they don’t have choice,” Cambe said of her children who had moved to their previous house in November. “The only thing I’m wishing from God is the chance to start again with a new life. That’s the only thing I’m asking from him, but I’m thankful to the Red Cross and everything, especially to Andaz hotel.”

The hotel’s Human Resources Office is accepting donations on behalf of Cambe’s family and can be reached at 243-4725 or by email at

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at