It’s been five weeks since the Kilauea volcano began erupting on Hawaii’s big island.
Since then, more than 600 homes and buildings have been destroyed by the constant flow of blazing hot lava. The lava is creating new land, but it’s also creating toxic gases and destroying homes and roads.
York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Patch was in Hawaii on vacation because it was on his bucket list to see an active volcano. But when he saw lava about to burn down a home, his first responder training kicked in and he didn’t hesitate to help.
“It was pretty intense, very hot, very loud, sounds like a jet engine,” said Deputy Jason Patch. “I went there just as a tourist. I had no intentions of doing anything.”
Patch was walking through a neighborhood and saw a house about to catch fire. He says instinct kicked in.
“I went around the back of the house, tried to put the fire out with the garden hose, there was no water pressure,” Patch said.
He couldn’t stop the fire but saw pet supplies on the porch, so he wanted to make sure no people or pets were still inside.
Patch said, “When I did kick in the door, finally, there was nobody in there so I was like, that’s a relief.”
He moved some possessions outside, then watched as the house went up in flames.
“There’s nothing you can really do when lava is destroying everybody’s houses,” Patch said. “The lava would basically come and burn the house down and then bury it under like 10-15 feet of lava.”
It’s a heartbreaking reality for many people on Hawaii’s big island.
Patch said, “They’re basically losing all of their possessions, all their house and everything else like that and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The power of Mother Nature leaving its mark.
“Being right there and seeing it, is just amazing,” Patch said. “You know how loud and how powerful Mother Nature really is.”
This is not the first time Deputy Patch has helped people. He’s a former Marine, plus he drove to Florida to help with recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma.