Fire Ecology (Hawaii)

Wildfire in Hawaii Factsheet

Did you know that the average area burned per year in Hawaii has increased 400% over the past century? Check out this Pacific Fire Exchange fact sheet that presents Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization's State Wildfire History Map and Dr. Clay Trauernichts' key findings from his research on the scale and scope of wildfire in Hawaii.

"Over the past decade, an average of >1000 wildfires burned >17,000 acres each year in Hawai‘i, with the percentage of total land area burned comparable to and often exceeding figures for the fire-prone western US (Fig. 1). Humans have caused much of the increase in wildfire threat by increasing the abundance of ignitions (Fig. 2) and introducing nonnative, fire-prone grasses and shrubs. Nonnative grasslands and shrublands now cover nearly one quarter of Hawaii's total land area and, together with a warming, drying climate and year round fire season, greatly increase the incidence of larger fires (Fig. 3), especially in leeward areas. Wildfires were once limited in Hawai‘i to active volcanic eruptions and infrequent dry lightning strikes. However, the dramatic increase in wildfire prevalence poses serious threats to human safety, infrastructure, agricultural production, cultural resources, native ecosystems, watershed functioning, and nearshore coastal resources statewide."

Hawaii Wildfire Impacts Flyer

Hawaii has a devastating wildfire problem. While under-publicized nationally, the scale and scope of wildfires in Hawaii are extreme. Take a look and please share widely!

Climate Change Impacts on Wildfires in Hawaii

As climate change continues to reshape the lands and waters of Hawaii, wildfire will be increasingly on the radar. Climate change contributes to conditions known to increase wildfire hazard. More wildfires in Hawaii mean less native forests and drinking water and more erosion/runoff, coastal brownouts, and communities at risk. Please share this infographic far and wide and remember, there is a lot you can do to protect your family, home, and community!

Hawaiian Fire Potential Outlook Products

March - June 2017 weather conditions that affect fire potential in Hawaii.

Stay up-to-date about various weather and fuels conditions in Hawaii that affect fire potential with this useful service from North Ops Predictive Services meteorologists. 4-month Significant Fire Potential Outlook products are available as a "pdf", powerpoint, or video.


Fuels and Wildfire Behavior - Training Module

"This PFX Training Module is a self-paced mini-course that includes short self-assessments throughout. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Understand how fuel type, characteristics, arrangement, and environment affects fire risk and fire behavior.
  • Be able to identify hazardous fuels types and arrangements on a landscape. "

Prevent Wildfires to Protect Our Ocean (VIDEO)


In 2016, Maui had its worst wildfire season in many years. With barely any vegetation left in the burned areas to hold down silty soils, a mid-September storm rained down on the burned lands and carried trash and debris through our watersheds and out into the ocean. This video tells the story post-fire flooding and its impacts on our communities, lands, and waters. 

Footage of post-fire flooding was filmed in West Maui on the days following the September 13th storm. 

Share this video with your friends, 'ohana, coworkers and everyone else you know who cares about our oceans.

And remember to share the message: 

Pablo Beimler - Producer, Writer, Videographer, Editor, Narrator
Elizabeth Pickett - Writer
Gordon Firestein - Launiupoko Videos
Doris Lang - Launiupoko Videos
Seri Niimi-Burch - Airport Fire Video

Music by - "Piano Moment"

This video was made possible through the support provided by U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, under the terms of Grant No. 16-DG-11052012-146. The opinions expressed in this video are those of the author(s) and does not necessarily reflect views of the U.S. Forest Service. USDA is an equal opportunity provider. 

Hidden Victims of the Nanakuli Fire (VIDEO)

The Nanakuli Fire in March of 2016 threatened a number of homes along the edges of the valley. However, some precious native plants were also in the path of the destructive fire. Here's the story behind what happened and the larger lesson of how wildfires impact Hawaii's native ecosystems.

El Niño and Fire Weather on Pacific Islands

The current (2015-2016), strong El Niño is forecast to bring drier conditions to our region this summer and beyond.  This PFX fact sheet illustrates how droughts under prior El Niños have resulted in extensive fires across the region.  This indicates the current forecast is an opportunity to plan and increase preparedness for conditions of higher fire danger.

HWMO VIDEO: Kawaihae Fire and Flood 2015 - Mauka to Makai Impacts

HWMO produced this short PSA video demonstrating the mauka-to-makai effects of wildfire with footage and photographs documenting the post-fire floods in Kawaihae in August 2015, that negatively impacted the nearshore resources including coral reefs.

Fire Management Today - Building a Spatial Database of Fire Occurrence in Hawaii

The article, written by HWMO's Elizabeth Pickett and University of Hawaii's Andrew Pierce, is titled Building a Spatial Database of Fire Occurrence in Hawaii. Ms. Pickett and Dr. Pierce describe the arduous process of collecting, compiling, mapping, and analyzing years of wildfire ignition records from various fire response agencies.