DENVER (KDVR) — A Colorado man, born and raised in Arvada who now lives in Hawaii, has spent the past few days flying supplies to those affected by the fires in Maui.
“I think Coloradans can relate because we are used to fires, especially with how scary it is when it comes to neighborhoods,” Jake Harmon, the Chief Pilot for Maverick Helicopters in Hawaii said.
Harmon said he was a student at the University of Colorado when plans changed and he decided to become a pilot. Before moving to Hawaii to work as a tour guide pilot, Harmon worked as an EMS pilot for Airlife Denver.
“When you’re flying as an EMS, you are flying people on the worst day of their life, and its the opposite of that here, it’s one of the best days, and a lot of people tell me its the best part of their trip,” Harmon said.
Harmon, who graduated from Arvada West High School, said during his career as an EMS pilot he had 536 patient missions. Now in Hawaii, he has flown over 3,000 tours.
But with the recent deadly fires that blew through Maui and the city of Lahaina, he is using his flying skills to help the people on the island he calls home.
“What is scary is it doesn’t even look like a fire went through there it looks like a war zone,” Harmon said. “It is completely leveled.”
Since there are fires all over the island of Maui, Harmon explained that a lot of the supplies went to the east side of Maui when the deadly fire blew through Lahaina, which is on the west side of the island.
“The two roads coming out of the west were cut off so we were flying supplies from the Kahului Airport to the Kapalua Airport,” Harmon said. “Then supplies would be distributed to Lahaina.”
He said in 18 trips they delivered 18,000 pounds worth of supplies. That includes items like water, diapers, formula and other hygiene supplies.
“It’s all gone and it’s really hard to see that,” Harmon said.
Harmon said that on several of the trips back, they brought people with them who needed to get to the east side of the island.
One of the passengers shared his survival story during the flight. Harmon said the man told him he fled to the ocean and stayed in the water for 10 hours as the flames burned.
“He described it like the Titanic, that everyone was screaming and crying and as the hours went on it got quieter and quieter,” Harmon said. “We were all in tears hearing this story ’cause it was so heartbreaking.”
Harmon said now there are some flight restrictions in place for parts of the island but they are on standby and are working to help news crews to get up in the air to share the story of the devastation.
“People don’t care about what they don’t know about,” Harmon said.
Harmon did share that he believes Coloradans can relate to the devastating fires in Maui.
“Locals in Colorado all know someone who’s been impacted by fires,” Harmon said.
Harmon is asking people to help in any way they can either by donating supplies or money.
Most of Harmon’s family still lives here in Colorado. His dad owns Randi’s Pizza in Arvada. The restaurant has been open for nearly 50 years.