As part of a nationwide effort, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) is working with its partners statewide to launch Wildfire Preparedness Month for the month of May. On May 7th, National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day, communities across the U.S. held action days to prepare their neighborhoods for wildfire.
Kanehoa subdivision, located off of Kawaihae Road halfway between Kawaihae and Waimea, held a community-wide Wildfire Preparedness Day event on the morning of May 7th. Two dozen community members joined the Wildfire Preparedness Day efforts in Kanehoa to remove enough haole koa (or ekoa) to fill-to-the-brim an entire large dumpster within a few hours. Ekoa is known to be an extreme fire hazard due to its high flammability and potential to create embers that can spot additional fires or ignite homes from miles away.
The community members broke off into teams and removed ekoa from the sides of the roads within the subdivision, greatly reducing the wildfire threat by ensuring the roads can act as a fuelbreak to slow the spread of wildfire.
The idea for the event sprouted from a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment that HWMO and its partners from Hawaii Fire Department conducted for the subdivision as part of a Firewise certification effort for the community.
Throughout 2015, HWMO worked closely with Kanehoa to assist them in their effort to become a nationally-recognized Firewise Community. Residents in Kanehoa put in countless volunteer hours and dollar match to ensure their homes’ ignition risk was reduced. As a result of their hard work, Kanehoa became the second Firewise Community in the State of Hawaii. HWMO held a brief ceremony at the end of the May 7th work day to officially recognize the community for its significant achievement towards wildfire readiness.
All of us at Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization are very proud of the work the Kanehoa community has contributed towards reducing the wildfire threat in their area and we hope more communities will follow their lead. You can be a part of an amazing movement on any given day by gathering your family, friends, and neighbors for preparedness activities that range from evacuation planning to flammable vegetation removal.