Drought Kicks In - Wildfires Already on Kauai

Waimea Canyon Fire, 2017. Credit: The Garden Island / Mark Stainaker

Waimea Canyon Fire, 2017. Credit: The Garden Island / Mark Stainaker

Drought conditions are kicking in across the Hawaiian Islands, including on Kauai, where multiple brushfires have already burned. 75% of wildfires in Hawaii occur when the drought monitor is lit up. Now is the time to be ready using your Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide and Wildfire LOOKOUT! tools.

From the Source:

While recovery from April 2018 floods continues on the North Shore, the Westside is looking at severe drought conditions through September.

“We’re already seeing agriculture impacts, especially for the ranchers and we’re expecting a more active brushfire season,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrologist, Kevin Kodama in a Wednesday press conference.

Firefighters Struggle to Contain Large Wahiawa Fire Along Kaukonahua Road

Wahiawa Fire. Credit: KITV4

Wahiawa Fire. Credit: KITV4

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters are working to contain a growing brush fire that has scorched roughly 375 acres in Wahiawa.

One driver reported seeing thick smoke in the area.

“I was coming down Kaukonahua Road and it was just completely smoke. You could see it coming from Wahiawa. But as you got further down, you could see it -- like plumes of smoke coming up,” Cora Pierce said as she watched the smoke billow.

HFD said windy conditions, accessibility and steep terrain have been major challenges.

Climate Change is Creating Catastrophic Wildfires

“Wildfires can have detrimental impacts on entire ecosystems.” Credit: Reuters / Rafael Marchante

“Wildfires can have detrimental impacts on entire ecosystems.” Credit: Reuters / Rafael Marchante

According to a recent study from Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension, parts of Hawaiʻi Island are at risk of an increase in up to 375% in annual fire risk due to climate change. Global warming is contributing to worsening wildfire conditions across the globe.

From the Source:

With little fanfare and scant news coverage, fire season 2019 has arrived. Firefighters are already containing blazes in several states, including ColoradoFlorida and Oklahoma, and seasonal outlooks suggest that significant wildfires are likely in parts of Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast.

While forest management and human development have increased wildfire incidence and risk, climate change has exacerbated the trend of large fires and contributed to the lengthening of the fire season, in some cases making wildfires a year-round phenomenon. In the Western U.S., climate change is a major driver behind the near doubling in burned area that we've experienced over the past 35 years, and has contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of fires, while lengthening the fire season in some regions.




Brush Fire Above Diamond Head Road Started at Homeless Camp

Credit: Hawaii News Now

Credit: Hawaii News Now

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters extinguished a small brush fire on the mountain above Diamond Head Road early Monday.

According to HFD, the fire broke out around 2:15 a.m. near Leahi Beach Park.

Brushing Up on Wildfire Skills

Credit: Maui News

Credit: Maui News

Prescribed fire can be a great opportunity for firefighters to train for real life wildfire scenarios, while also reducing vegetation hazards prior to peak fire season. Wildfires are inevitable in dry areas, but they don’t have to catch us completely off guard and be as destructive as they have been. As Chief Eric Moller of U.S. Army-Garrison, FES says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of protection.”

From the Source:

Maui Fire Department firefighters learn how to “fight fire with fire” while taking part in an annual wild land refresher training in a former sugar cane field several miles mauka of Puunene Tuesday morning. Assistant Chief Rick Kawasaki explained that during a windblown brush fire a “backfire,” or “burnout,” strategy can be used to widen a firebreak or eliminate combustibles next to structures to rob a raging fire of fuel when it reaches the area. “It’s less labor intensive,” Kawasaki said. “With this type of fuel, it burns so fast, we can’t keep up.” 

Live Wildfire Training on Maui Set Later This Month

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

Attention Maui residents and visitors:

From the Source:

The Maui Fire Department will be conducting wildland firefighting refresher training in the Launiupoko and Central Maui areas April 17 to 19 and 22 to 24 — using live fires.

Residents may see flames or smell smoke in the training areas, said acting Fire Services Chief Jeffrey T. Giesea.

The purpose of the exercises is to provide a hands-on refresher training for firefighting personnel prior to the upcoming brush fire season and to reduce the brush fire hazard in the neighboring communities by burning away fuel and creating a “safety buffer.”

Firefighters will be in a 20-acre plot about 3 miles east of the old Puunene Mill from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 19, 23, 24; and in Launiupoko on a 20-acre plot north of Haniu Street and Punakea Loop along “Lahaina Pump Ditch Two” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 17, 18, 22.

HFD Responds to Five Brush Fire Calls in One Day on Oahu

Credit: KHON2

Credit: KHON2

"I would say that generally it's a little early in the season. But when you have the growth with the rain that we've had, as long as it's there. It's ready to burn," said Scot Seguirant, HFD.

Now is the time to prepare. Check out Wildfire LOOKOUT! for tips and tricks on preventing and preparing for wildfire.

From the Source:

Additional ways you can prevent these kinds of fire include only lighting matches or other kindling when there aren't windy conditions, and being aware of where you throw lighted cigarettes. Having a shovel, water and fire retardent in your yard for use can also be useful when a fire comes near your home. Finally you can protect your home and family by simply being aware of what may cause accidental fires and limiting risk factors such as a lighted barbeque pit or campfire.

Brush Fire in Kalihi Burns 15 Acres

Kalihi Fire, April 7, 2019. Credit: KITV4

Kalihi Fire, April 7, 2019. Credit: KITV4

”Heavy stands of iron wood (Casuarina equisetifolia) on this ridge get thick carpets of leaf litter and duff - fire will just slow churn through that stuff for hours.” - Dr. Clay Trauernicht on the Kalihi fire.

From the Source:

A brush fire in Kalihi and Fort Shafter burns about 15 acres. The flames came close to the Kamehameha IV Apartments, but did not damage any Kalihi valley homes this afternoon. 

Smoke and flames were seen above Kalena Drive as the fire broke out around noon. Fire crews battled the flames on the hillside for nearly four hours before getting it under control.

Wildfire Rips Along South Korea's Eastern Coast, Prompting National Emergency

Our thoughts are with those impacted by these tragic wildfires in South Korea.

“A forest fire is seen raging near buildings in Sokcho, South Korea. South Korea mobilized troops and helicopters to deal with the massive blaze that roared through forests and cities along the eastern coast.” Credit: Kangwon Ilbo / Getty Images

“A forest fire is seen raging near buildings in Sokcho, South Korea. South Korea mobilized troops and helicopters to deal with the massive blaze that roared through forests and cities along the eastern coast.” Credit: Kangwon Ilbo / Getty Images

From the Source:

South Korea is using its military to contain a large forest fire that spread quickly after igniting in Gangwon Province, along the country's east coast. Strong winds moved the blaze from city to city, prompting President Moon Jae-in to declare a national emergency.

It's being called the worst wildfire to hit South Korea in years, forcing thousands to evacuate and ravaging rural towns. Fire officials are reporting two deaths, according to the Associated Press.

In Gangwon's national forests and other woodlands, fires are common in the spring — but they usually don't spread so quickly, and they're usually confined to unpopulated areas, residents tell the Korea Herald.

Fire Burns 3 Acres by Kapalua Airport

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From the Source:

Firefighters extinguished a brush fire that burned about 3 acres near the tree line above Kapalua Airport on Sunday afternoon, a fire official said.

The fire was reported at 3:42 p.m., with Napili and Lahaina fire crews responding along with the Fire Department’s Air One helicopter and a battalion chief.

Hawaii Wildfire Potential Above Normal April Through July

month1_outlook.png

Be vigilant - wildfire conditions are ripe for wildfire these next few months in Hawaii. Are you prepared? Check out the Ready, Set, Go! guide and Wildfire LOOKOUT! for tips on how to prepare for and prevent wildfires.

From the Source:

Hawaii and Puerto Rico will continue to see slightly elevated potential early in the outlook period until the impacts of tropical weather conditions begin to be felt.

Five Hawaii Firewise Communities Awarded 2019 Wildfire Prep Day Grants

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We are so proud to announce that this year, Hawaiʻi has the most awardees it has ever had for the nationwide #WildfirePrepDay contest. 

The awardees are:
Waikiʻi Ranch
Waikoloa Village
Kanehoa
Puʻukapu Pastoral
Waialea

Check out the 150 awardees across the U.S. who received generous support from State Farm through NFPA.

Even without a State Farm grant, there is a lot you can do in your community for Wildfire Prep Day on May 4. Need project ideas? Click the button below, courtesy of our friends from Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.

Fire Near Keanuhea Street and Kula Highway Extinguished

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From the Source:

Maui firefighters were called to reports of a fire at 8:50 a.m. Tuesday which was  located in the brush area between Keanuhea Street and Kula Highway.

Firefighters from Makawao and Kahului responded.

Once on scene, crews found what appeared to by a makeshift campsite completely burned.

Air 1 was called to assist with water drops because of the remote location which was very difficult to access with firefighting vehicles. The fire was quickly contained and later declared extinguished around noon. 

HFD Battles Brush Fire at Hokulia Golf Course

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From the Source:

The Hawaii‘i Fire department arrived at the scene of a half-acre brush fire at 5:07 p.m. on Monday, March 11, 2019, between two fairways at the Hokulia Golf Course near the bottom of Halekii Street.

The area contained a heavy fuel load, including keawe, haole koa and pili grass. Access was challenging access due to archeological and cultural sites.

Firefighters were unable to cut a firebreak across bottom of fire due to numerous archeological and historical sites.

El Nino Conditions Played a Part In the Raging Brush Fires Over the Weekend

Credit: KITV4 News

Credit: KITV4 News

El Nino means more wildfires. More wildfires means more impacts. We must all be ready for a busy fire year. Check out Wildfire LOOKOUT for wildfire prevention and preparedness resources at your fingertips.

From the Source:

"With El Niño comes drought usually and so that dries out all the vegetation and we can get an out of season active period in terms of brush fires,"  Kevin Kodama, hydrologist, National Weather Service, said. "For the Leeward areas, you're really getting out of a chance of any sort of meaningful rainfall for that side of the island anyway. It's the driest time of the year."

"The big risk factors are sort of all of these unused former agricultural lands but all this grass," Clay Trauernicht, wildland fire specialist, University of Hawaii, said. 

"It should allow folks in those communities to start to get ready and realize the threat is there and they can do something about it now to minimize the impact,"  Captain Scot Seguirant, HFD, said. 

To help prevent wildfires, Seguirant recommends residents cut their brush and vegetation to at least 30 feet away from their homes. 

500 Acre Brush Fire Behind Nanakuli Sack N Save 100% Contained

Fire behind Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Credit: KITV4

Fire behind Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Credit: KITV4

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters say a West Oahu brush fire that burned since pre-dawn on Sunday is 100 percent contained. The fire department says 500 acres burned, and hot spots and smoke are coming from burned areas. 

HFD says strong gusty wind conditions, accessibility, and terrain are challenging fire fighters efforts. In Nanakuli, the fire came as close as 100 feet to some homes.

HFD says the fire originated in Nanakuli Valley and branched off into Waianae Valley. Throughout the day, it was an active fire that firefighters battled on multiple fronts, and with the help of the federal fire department.  



750 Trees Find New Homes in the Mountains of Waianae

“Dozens of volunteers got down and dirty to plant roughly 750 trees on Oahu’s west side.” Credit: DLNR.

“Dozens of volunteers got down and dirty to plant roughly 750 trees on Oahu’s west side.” Credit: DLNR.

Important work being done by our partners from the Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership and DLNR to reforest Waianae Kai State Forest Reserve, which will create a more resilient landscape and reduce the wildfire risk in the area. If you want to get involved with the planting events, you’re asked to contact coordinator Yumi Miyata at (808) 227-9545, or wmwpcoordinator@gmail.com.

From the Source:

“The Enterprise Urban Tree Initiative brings our employees together to volunteer in communities like Waianae that have been devastated by natural disasters, such as wildfires,” said Chris Sbarbaro, Enterprise Hawaii Vice President of External Affairs. “We support the Arbor Day Foundation and its partners in their efforts to build strong communities from the ground up and create a sustainable and inclusive future for all.”

The need to restore Oahu’s west side comes as a dry spell started to hit Nanakuli, and is likely to move toward Waianae during the normally hot and dry summer months.

“Unfortunately, wildfires have become more frequent in Waianae. The cycle of infrequent, heavy rain followed by dry, hot and windy weather creates the perfect conditions for fast-moving, intense fire. A recent fire in August 2018 burned more than 1,500 acres of the forest reserve, threatening native forests important for water recharge,” said Yumi Miyata, Waiʻanae Mountains Watershed Partnership Coordinator and Chair of Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships.

Kokee Road Fires Under Investigation

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From the Source:

Firefighters responded to multiple brush fires that broke out along Koke‘e Road throughout the day Sunday, starting in the early morning hours and ending in the evening.

There were no reports of injuries or structural damage related to the fires.

Roughly 50 acres were burned before the blaze could be contained by emergency crews around 5:20 p.m. Fire crews ran out of water in their engines throughout the course of the day fighting the fire and were forced to reload on several occasions.

Anyone with information is urged to call the KPD at 241-1711.

Strong Winds Challenge HFD During Small Sand Island Wildfire

Sand Island fire on March 9. Credit: Hawaii News Now

Sand Island fire on March 9. Credit: Hawaii News Now

Strong winds fueled a wildland fire near Sand Island Saturday.

The fire was reported just before 1:40 p.m. Smoke was visible from the nearby highway.

HFD says about 18 fire personnel responded to the incident and began battling the flames.

“Strong gusty wind conditions challenged fire fighters efforts,” HFD said in a news release.

The fire reportedly started in an empty lot known to be frequented by homeless, HFD said.

Police Identify Suspect Arrested in Connection with Maili Wildfires in West Oahu

Footage from Senator Maile Shimabukuro broadcasted on Hawaii News Now.

Footage from Senator Maile Shimabukuro broadcasted on Hawaii News Now.

Although 75% of wildfires are deemed accidental and thus easily preventable in Hawaii, according to researcher Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension, we also have a challenging arson issue. It’s rare for authorities to catch arsonists and even more difficult to prosecute arsonists. In this Maili fire, a suspect was found at the scene of one of four wildfires along Farrington Highway in Maili. Thankfully no one was hurt and no homes were lost, but an investigation is underway.

From the Source:

The dramatic afternoon has Senator Shimabukuro renewing her push for a million dollars in grant money to help fight West Oahu wildfires.

“Fires have been terrorizing our community my whole life," she said. “Every summer, our mountains are on fire. I really hope that this million dollars that the community is requesting for the Waianae Kai Wildfire Preparedness Plan can be granted by the legislature."