William Fincher, a restaurant owner in Lahaina, watched helplessly as his neighborhood burned down before his eyes during the deadly Maui wildfires. Driving through the town amid the blaze, he saw cars and homes engulfed in flames along the roadway in the darkness of the night.
He told "Good Morning America" that he couldn't get to his home by car, attempting to instead walk back to his home through the blaze that erupted on Aug. 8 -- "a very foolish thing to do, in retrospect," -- to find his family, whom he had been separated from. He found his house ablaze when he was hit with the "thickest, hottest" cloud of smoke.
His home and two of his restaurants were completely destroyed in the tragedy. He and his family are awaiting the next steps toward rebuilding their life in the historic Hawaii town while they hole up in a temporary rental home just South of Lahaina. Thousands of residents were displaced by the deadly blazes that left 97 people dead.
But the long journey toward stability will soon make forward progress. Maui builder Juan Ricci, with Fincher's help, is building tiny homes for the Fincher family during this period of uncertainty.
Ricci hopes the tiny homes in non-damaged regions can give Fincher and his family a sense of normalcy.
"The rebuilding of Lahaina's not going to happen in a couple months or a year, you know. It's going to be a long time until Lahaina gets built," Ricci told "Good Morning America."
Residents are just starting to be allowed back to the disaster area, as properties are cleared of hazardous materials. Still, the debris from the devastation remains and properties that once housed families have been flattened.
Some parts of the town are completely unrecognizable, according to local officials.
"In my experience, everything here in Hawaii takes longer than they say it will. So, realistically, I'm just kind of preparing my family and myself to not be able to build for several years," said Fincher.
"Lahaina is the best place in the world without a doubt, and now it's still there, but it's never gonna be the same," he added.
For some families who are displaced from their homes in Lahaina, they fear the uncertainty their future holds as they await information about longer-term housing. Local officials have said that residents who lost homes do not need to fear being kicked out of temporary housing, but the fear persists.
"We need, like, a solution for the long term," said Ricci. "What's gonna happen next? We need to be prepared for that."
Fincher will be part of the team learning to build in order to help build his new tiny home.
"I'm good with tools, but I don't know how to frame or put roofs on or lay foundation, electrical, you know, none of this stuff," Fincher said. "Juan does and Juan has the guys that know how to do this stuff."
Ricci and his team are relying on donations to get families housed, right now volunteering their own time and money to get the project off the ground.
"That's the idea, to raise some money and keep going and start paying the guys that have been working, helping the people," said Ricci.
"The mortgage keeps coming, the rents still come in, the health insurance will come in ... we need to create new jobs," Ricci continued. "I've been teaching people. They're not construction workers, but they can help out on the tiny home project."
He hopes to get enough funds to build more spaces for families in need: "Everybody's trying to help out right now," Ricci said.