HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lizzy Stabo has been a volunteer firefighter for the Hawaii Fire Department for the past decade.
She has come across numerous hazards throughout her career, from countless brush fires, house fires and even assisting lava evacuees during the 2018 Kilauea eruption.
“Biggest thing I could say is she just loves her community,” said Meghann Proue, Stabo’s daughter.
Friday, Sept. 3, was Stabo’s birthday and she spent it like any other day — fighting a fire. She would end the day being airlifted to Oahu with third-degree burns.
“Obviously, we’re very concerned,” said Hawaii Fire Department chief Kazuo Todd. “Liz is an amazing volunteer firefighter.
Stabo responded to an underground fire at Honu’apo that had been burning for several months.
“While it looks kind of normal from the top, actually it’s been burning underground for months and months. And when the wind or conditions gets right, smoke or fire will start peaking up out of the ground, and what we don’t realize is certain areas under ground basically hallowed out. Like they’re an imu and there’s just a lot of heat,” Todd said.
Stabo accidentally stepped on one of the holes while fighting the fire and ended up in a pit full of burnt logs and hot embers.
“Looks almost like dirt and all of the sudden you’re wait-deep and it’s 400 or 500 degrees under the ground. So one of our experienced captains immediately went and grabbed her and literally carried her out,” Todd said.
Stabo was flown to Straub Medical Center’s burn unit on Oahu with severe burns on the lower half of her body. Her daughter said, “one is from ankle to knee, all the way around, it’s pretty bad. The other is just below her knee, just as bad as well. She’s having scrub surgeries two times a day, which are very painful.”
Stabo’s daughter said her mom is in good spirits despite being in a lot of pain. The hardest part is not being able to see her family, who live 5,000 miles away in Minnesota.
“It is really hard right now cuz I’m trying to figure out how to put all the wheels together to try to go with my kids, my husband’s job,” Proue said.
Stabbo is expected to make a full recovery and is set to undergo skin graft surgery on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
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She will not be able to walk for several months, however, so click here to support her recovery efforts.