Kanehoa subdivision in Waimea (Kamuela) is off and running towards the Firewise Community Certification, which at this rate would make them the 2nd Firewise Community in the State of Hawaii (after Kohala-By-the-Sea). Becoming a Firewise Community is a multi-step process and relies on the grassroots efforts of the local community members. We're assisting Kanehoa, along with 9 other communities across the State, to help them achieve Firewise Certification (including $5,000 in match to kick-off a Fuels Reduction Day for each community).
On July 18th, HWMO's Pablo Beimler and Troy Scott and HFD Fire Inspector Palani Kurashige joined a couple Kanehoa Firewise Committee members to conduct a community-wide wildfire hazard assessment to update a 10-year-old assessment with new information about the community's wildfire situation. The team drove around the neighborhood stopping at various houses to meet with homeowners about their wildfire concerns and to get a general sense for the wildfire risk around their homes and the neighborhood.
Kanehoa has had its fair share of close-calls with wildfires that have ignited along Kawaihae Rd. (a large number of ignitions in the past decade have occurred along that highway). One such fire in November of 2010 burned with swirling winds and came close to destroying a number of homes and burned down a tractor shed. The wildfire even skipped over the stream on the South side of the village, which was running more like a river that day!
After the assessment update is completed by HWMO, we will present the findings to the Kanehoa Firewise Committee. The Committee will then develop an action plan based on the assessment and decide on a Fuels Reduction Day event. After holding the event, the Firewise Community will be eligible to submit an application to the DOFAW and national Firewise offices for approval. By then, we'll have the next Firewise Community in the State!