President Joe Biden, during his recent visit to Maui to meet the victims of the devastating Lahaina fires, drew parallels between the catastrophic event and a minor fire incident at his residence almost two decades ago. The Lahaina fires, which occurred earlier this month, resulted in the tragic loss of over 100 lives, with approximately 1,000 individuals still missing. The fires also led to the destruction of close to 3,000 structures, as reported by state and local authorities.
Biden’s attempt to empathize with the victims by recounting his personal experience with a fire at his home was met with criticism. He recalled a sunny Sunday, nearly 15 years ago, when lightning struck near his home, causing a fire that was limited to his kitchen. “I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat,” Biden remarked, praising the firefighters for their swift response. He further described the thick smoke that filled his home and acknowledged the challenges of being displaced, even temporarily. However, contrasting reports from the Associated Press at the time described the fire at Biden’s residence as “small” and “contained to the kitchen,” with the situation being managed within minutes.
The President’s comments, especially when juxtaposed against the magnitude of the Lahaina fires, stirred controversy. Critics argue that his comparison was inappropriate given the scale and impact of the Maui tragedy.
Biden tells Maui wildfire victims, "I don't want to compare difficulties, but…" then tells a made up story about losing his house to a fire.
According to a 2004 AP report, it was “a small fire…contained to the kitchen” that “was under control in 20 minutes.” pic.twitter.com/DNY0Tyatg7
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 22, 2023