WATCH: Biden Recalls Small Kitchen Fire at His Home To Console Maui Wildfire Survivors

August 22, 2023

President Joe Biden told survivors of the devastating Hawaii wildfires that he "has a little sense" of what it's like "to lose a home" after a small fire broke out in his kitchen in 2004.

"I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, what it’s like to lose a home," Biden on Monday told the group in Maui, where at least 115 have died and nearly 1,000 people remain missing—a figure that Biden's FEMA chief failed to explain this week.

"Years ago now, 15 years ago, I was in Washington doing Meet the Press," Biden said. "It was a sunny Sunday and lightning struck at home on a little lake that's outside of our home, not on a lake, a big pond."

Biden said firefighters "ran into flames" and that he "almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat." The Delaware fire department that responded to the 2004 blaze, however, last year said the fire was "insignificant" and "was contained in 20 minutes." They did not report running into any fire, as it was contained to the kitchen.

Biden on Monday brought up the death of his first wife and daughter in 1972 to empathize with the group of survivors.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden spent six hours in the devastated state and took a tour of the damage from the air. The president said his administration would be "respectful of the sacred grounds and the traditions."

Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also said this week that the administration is being "culturally sensitive" in its response.

Biden faced criticism last week for shrugging off questions about the wildfires amid criticism over his leadership during the disaster. After he first addressed the disaster two weeks ago, Biden went four days without commenting on it again.

"No, not now," Biden on Thursday told a reporter who asked for details about his planned trip.

"I’m going to be leaving and I’ll be there on Monday," Biden added before walking away.

The president refused to give remarks on the disaster while on a weekend beach vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on August 13. "No comment," he told reporters.

Published under: Joe Biden