Hoge’s Heroes: Hawaiian Man Travels 13 Miles on Bicycle Through Wildfire Hell to Save Grandma

(Matthew Thayer/The Maui News via AP)

This column is one in a series I started because it sometimes can become numbing to cover Joe Biden’s corruption, the endless federal legal assault on former President Donald Trump (love him or hate him, it’s deeply problematic), the cost of inflation on the little guy, the purposeful southern border crisis, and the savage Russian war in Ukraine.  


Sometimes you have to think about other things, or you’ll lose your mind.

And while the deadly wildfires in Maui hurt the heart, there are—as happens many times in disasters---stories that give us hope. Take for example 28-year-old Pa’ele Kiakona, who went to amazing lengths to save his grandmother from the inferno:

Pa’ele Kiakona, 28, traveled 13 miles through a torched hellscape on Aug. 8, in a frantic bid to save his beloved grandma who lived in the doomed town of Lahaina.

“I was going as fast as I could, but the fire was coming really fast,” Kiakona told The Post on Friday about the harrowing ride from his Honokohau Valley home to the beachfront town in which he was raised.

“I almost fell over multiple times – the wind was just crazy,” Kiakona said. “There were points where I felt I would give up, like I couldn’t make it.

“But I felt as if God had his hand on my shoulder, pushing me, helping me.”

He got to his grandma’s house and made sure she evacuated—with 30 minutes to spare.


“I got there and I told her, ‘You need to leave now,'” Kiakona said. “Luckily, my grandma had some tenants and they had a car, they packed their stuff and jumped in the car.”

The fires swept through less than a half-hour later, destroying his grandma’s home, he said.

He described his frantic rescue effort:

“There was smoke in all directions – it was like something you’d see in a movie,” he said. "I could feel my legs building up with lactic acid, my lungs were heavy, my heart was pounding,” he said. “But I continued and pushed through it. Pure instinct took over – nothing was going to stop me from getting there to save my family.”

He got to the house and warned his grandma that she needed to leave immediately, and she was able to take off with the tenants.

“By the time we met (just outside Lahaina), their house was gone,” Kiakona said. “I got them out just in time.”

There were many heroes pressed into action during the terrible fires; Kiakona was just one. Read about five more here:

5 Ordinary people who became heroes during Maui wildfires

 As we’ve reported, there were many, many mistakes made by “officials,” and while the governor was quick to point to climate change as the cause, facts suggest otherwise. That doesn’t, however, take away from the bold efforts of so many who did whatever it took to survive the tragedy.


God bless all those who were hurt by the devastation and all those who risked their lives to help their fellow human beings. 

This is part of a series about everyday heroes that don’t necessarily make the front pages. It’s a chance to talk about something other than Joe’s mumblings and Hunter’s depravity.

I’m inviting readers to send me stories of people they know or who they’ve read about who have done heroic acts—large or small, physical or otherwise—that have made someone’s life better or saved them from danger. Please email me with any tips at [email protected] or DM me on Twitter. Thanks!


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