Hometown Heroes: Captain oversaw fight to save heart of Lahaina during huge wildfire

Hometown Heroes: Captain oversaw fight to save heart of Lahaina during huge wildfire

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been six months since massive wildfires ripped through West Maui, leaving dozens of people homeless.

According to Maui Fire Department’s Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro, the official fire investigation report states that the cause remains "undetermined."

Nevertheless, the heroism of the firefighters that day will never be forgotten.

"The guys that I had under me, they performed so valiantly and so brave and selfless,” said MFD Capt. Jamie Joyo.

Joyo has been a Maui firefighter for 28 years. He was assigned to protect one of the most critical areas in the heart of Lahaina town: Lahainaluna Road.

“As a supervisor, for me, the concern was actually deciding to put people in harm’s way."

Approximately 21,000 people live in West Maui and the number of tourists on any given day in the area is unknown. On Aug. 24, brush fires broke out in Maalaea, Lahaina and Kaanapali.

Many lives were in danger.

“As somebody in charge of that division … I was very concerned when the fire came down and started to impact the homes. I was very concerned about their safety,” Joyo said.

The fires broke out during Hurricane Lane that at its peak was a Category 5 storm. Wind-whipped flames torched more than 2,000 acres, 22 homes and 30 vehicles.

But there were zero fatalities ― and the oldest school west of the Mississippi was spared.

“This was probably the most intense wild-land incident I’ve been to in my career and it’s not because it was the biggest, it was because it involved a lot more people and a lot more lives,” Joyo said.

He added that he’s most proud of his community who came together when they needed it most.

"After 20 years of service in the fire department, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been fantastic being able to meet our community, be appreciated by the community and being able to serve our community,” he said. “Thank you for your support. Not only during the event, but also afterwards and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

If you want to nominate someone you think is a Hometown Hero, email HometownHeroes@HawaiiNewsNow.com.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.