Above: Waikoloa Community Fuelbreak protected the Waikoloa Village from the State's largest wildfire (25,000 acres in 2005) in recent history.

Conventional and Living Fuelbreaks

HWMO has created fuelbreaks to protect communities and irreplaceable natural resources. Conventional fuelbreaks are areas where vegetation that easily carries fire has been reduced, often through weed-whacking, grazing, and a strategic use of herbicides. 

Community fuelbreaks currently protect Lai Opua, Waikoloa, Puako, Wailea, and Puu Anahulu. Fuelbreaks at Puu Waawaa and Puu Anahulu help to protect local residents and the upslope endangered dryland forests. 

The fuelbreak at Waikoloa is credited with assisting firefighters in the prevention of the largest wildfire in Hawaii State history, 25,000 acres, from entering the village.

To take fuelbreaks a step further, HWMO is pioneering the use of living fuelbreaks in Hawaii to protect communities and natural resources and to re-establish important native species and ecological functions. 

Living fuelbreaks use plants that do not carry fire as easily - most preferably native plants - as a buffer (a “break”) between more flammable, hazardous vegetation and communities or natural resources. Once established, living fuelbreaks can be much more cost effective (requiring little maintenance) than mechanical fuelbreaks (which require annual maintenance).

A great example of a living community-based fuel break ow exists in Wailea near Beach 69. The Wailea fuelbreak enabled fire fighters to stop a fire before it reached homes.