After the Maui fires, she learned the dangers of hotspots firsthand. Now she’s warning others

Her message to other burn victims is to take things day by day.
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 5:15 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 30, 2023 at 8:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui woman who suffered severe burns in the Kula wildfire is finally heading home after spending more than two weeks in the state’s only burn unit.

Judy McCorkle, 77, served in the Peace Corps and for the United Nations before calling Maui home in 1975. She and her husband, Tom, live in upper Kula and evacuated as flames moved into the area. They returned the next day to find their home fine, but the story doesn’t end there.

On the morning of Aug. 11, Judy McCorkle walked around their property to look for damage.

“I took a step onto — what I thought — was solid soil. It turned out to be a hotspot. And as I took that step, my foot sank into the hotspot and then I realized what was happening,” said McCorkle.

Special Section: Maui Wildfires Disaster

“It’s the aftermath of that, people really need to be warned about going into those areas.”

She said her neighbor called 911 immediately.

“I really thought I was going into shock because I couldn’t stop shaking,” said McCorkle.

The ambulance took her straight to the airport. She was then flown to the only burn unit in the entire state and Pacific region. The bottom of both her feet were completely burned.

“There is no painless way to get through it,” said McCorkle.

She was one of nine Maui fire victims who were treated at Straub’s Burn Unit.

The hospital says it’s the largest number of patients ever admitted to the unit from one event.

“Ranging from second-degree ... all the way up to about third-degree burns and all of these are adult patients,” said Straub Burn Unit Coordinator Amy Chong.

“It’s hard and we do have to set aside our feelings to put our patients and their needs first.”

McCorkle was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.

She hasn’t met the other victims, but if she could, she’d leave them with this: “I just wanted to tell them there is an end,” said McCorkle.

Philanthropy has been a big part of Judy’s life; a special fund has been created in her honor.

In the last 19 days, $77,500 has been raised for Maui patients and Straub’s Burn Unit so far.

Here’s the link to donate.