Fueling the Fire: Trump Thinks Logging Will Stop the Burning in California. It won't.

 “On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

One of the most renowned wildland fire experts, Stephen J. Pyne, offers more than his two cents of why the California fires are as extreme as they are…and it is not because California has not removed enough trees.

From the Source:

Where fires are crashing into towns, the real fuel is the built environment. Aerial photos of savaged suburbs tend to show incinerated structures and still-standing trees. The vegetation is adapted to fire; the houses aren’t. Once multiple structures begin to burn, the local fire services are overwhelmed and the fire spreads from building to building. This is the kind of urban conflagration Americans thought they had banished in the early 20th century. It’s like watching measles or polio return. Clearly, the critical reforms must target our houses and towns and revaccinate them against today’s fire threats. The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise program shows how to harden houses and create defensible space without nuking the scene into asphalt or dirt.

Too often, whether we’re talking about politics or fire management, the discussion ends up in absolutes. We leave the land to nature, we strip it, or we convert it to built landscapes. We have either the wild or the wrecked. In fact, there are lots of options available, and they will work best as cocktails. There is a place for prescribed burning, for prescribed grazing, for prescribed thinning (a kind of woody weeding), for prescribed chipping and masticating by machines, for greenbelting—crafting swathes of low-fuel land use like recreational parks or even golf courses—and, in select sites, for prescribed logging. Most treatments should concentrate where people and high-value assets are at risk—exurbs, suburbs, municipal watersheds. Elsewhere, in wildlands, some kind of managed fire will likely prove the most usable means, and in the West, hybrid practices—half suppression, half prescribed burn—are becoming common.

A Warming Planet Could Trigger More Intense Wildfire Season in Hawaii

 Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

Over the last several years, HWMO has prioritized adaptive measures such as Firewise Communities and strategic, cross-boundary vegetation management planning to ready areas for the rapidly changing conditions causing more and larger wildfires in Hawaii. The gravity of the situation is real with climate change, but there is so much we can do in our own communities to prepare for wildfires and other climate hazards. Learn how by visiting our Take Action page and the Wildfire Lookout! page.

Check out this excellent article with some of our close partners, including Dr. Clay Trauernicht and Michael Walker, who were interviewed and data that HWMO was instrumental in laying the groundwork for — the statewide wildfire history database we produced with our fire agency partners. Although sobering, it is great to see this data put to use for a better understanding of how climate change affects Hawaii locally.


From the Source:

In Hawaii, wildfires generally ignite during the dry season, typically between May and November, when it's hotter, drier and windier outside.

But models show that the drier leeward areas, where fires are more frequent, will see even less rainfall as a result of climate change, exacerbating drought conditions and expanding the length of Hawaii's dry season.

That means more favorable conditions for brush fires to ignite.

And non-native grasslands and shrubs — which cover nearly a fourth of Hawaii's total land area — are highly adapted to fire, meaning they thrive when they burn and come back really quickly, researchers say. And the drier it is, the harder it is for forests to recover in those spots.

Hotter days could spell longer-lasting brush fires, meaning more hours for firefighters and greater potential for damage to infrastructure.

And it's only going to get hotter. A regional NOAA report estimates that in Hawaii, temperatures are expected to rise by 4 to 5 degrees by 2085 — under a worst case emission scenario.

"If you have hotter days, the conditions that are going to promote your most active fires — like the hottest, windiest conditions — have the potential to last longer for hours within a span of a day," Trauernicht said, pointing to the Makaha fire that continued burning in the early evening, when temperatures are normally dropping and humidity levels usually go up.

Fire Is the One Hawaii Disaster We Can Avoid

 The August 2018 wildfires in Waianae Valley. Credit: Clay Trauernicht

The August 2018 wildfires in Waianae Valley. Credit: Clay Trauernicht

An excellent article by Dr. Clay Trauernicht, wildland fire specialist of University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange.

Not only does he explain why wildfires in Hawaii have burned 30,000 acres in August 2018, (more than double the annual average), but that it was predictable and there is much people can do to prevent wildfires. Dr. Trauernicht specifically sites the Wildfire LOOKOUT! tips for wildfire prevention.

To learn more about what you can do to protect your home and community from wildfire, visit HawaiiWildfire.org/lookout

From the Source:

Vegetation may be the most problematic issue facing fire management in Hawaii. Simply put, our communities and forests now exist amid an ocean of fire-prone grasslands and shrublands — about a million acres statewide. This is mostly a consequence of benign neglect as the value of real estate outweighs the value of maintaining production landscapes. Our agricultural and ranching footprint has declined by more than 60 percent across the state….

So what can we do about it? Awareness and education is the first step. Multiple state and county agencies and non-profits are working on this via the Hawaii Wildfire Lookout! Campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Fire prevention education can reduce accidental fires. Homes can be “hardened” to reduce the risk of loss. Communities can become “firewise” and organize to take actions such as increasing access for firefighters and reducing hazardous fuels near homes.

Vegetation is in some sense the simplest issue to tackle because it is the only fire hazard we can directly manage.  Yet it is also the most challenging due to the scale of the problem — the million acres of grasslands and shrublands across the state. There are multiple solutions for reducing risk in these fuels: fuel breaks, targeted grazing, prescribed fire, the restoration of agricultural and native ecosystems. There are also regulatory measures that can help such as firewise building and development codes.

Check out this letter to the editor from a former Firewise Co-Chair for Launiupoko, Ms. Linda Jenkins, who talks about their Firewise outreach efforts as a pathway forward.

”We completed assessments and provided all our neighbors with tips on how to make their homes and properties fire wise. An extensive public education campaign was conducted and we received our Firewise certification. We circulated tips on how to build a home and lay out a property to reduce fire risk. We also circulated tips on how to make your existing property and already built home safer.

This was successful in that many people made simple changes to their properties. I was also on the board at Makila and we maintained the sides of the bike path to create a fire break and kept our grass verges green.”

Repeated Natural Disasters Pummel Hawaii’s Farms, Affecting Macadamia Nuts, Taro, Papaya, Flower Harvests

 “An image by NOAA’s GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane when it was about 300 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island on Aug. 22. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)”

“An image by NOAA’s GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane when it was about 300 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island on Aug. 22. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)”

Farmers in the Pacific on the front-lines of climate-related natural disasters such as cyclones and wildfires. We must do all we can to ensure our farmlands are protected from these growing threats to our food and people’s livelihoods.

If you are a farmer or own/operate large lands in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, check out the Pacific Fire Exchange pre-fire planning resources: http://www.pacificfireexchange.org/research-publications/category/pre-fire-planning?rq=pre-fire%20plan

From the Source:

As Hawaii begins to recover from the tropical cyclone that dumped more than three feet of rain onto the Big Island last week, farmers here are just starting to assess the damage to their crops. Lane landed yet another blow to Hawaii’s agriculture industry after an already difficult year of reckoning with Mother Nature. Flooding, excess moisture and pounding rains could hurt macadamia nut, coffee and flower harvests for farmers on the east side of the island, which bore the brunt of the storm.

Lane also impacted small farms on the island of Maui, where the storm’s winds fanned and spread wildfires across hundreds of acres in Lahaina.

In the days leading up to the hurricane, beekeeper Eldon Dorsett prepared his bee hives for the coming weather, putting heavy weights on the top of the boxes to keep them from blowing away.

Dorsett arrived at the farm Saturday morning and found 15 of his hives burned to a crisp — the only evidence of their existence was a few nails and screws on the still-smoldering ground.

“It was a rough day,” Dorsett said. “The farm was like the day after Armageddon.”

“No matter what happens, we need to keep moving forward,” said Haraguchi-Nakayama, whose family operates Hanalei Taro. “People in Hawaii are resilient by coming together as a community during times of crisis. Farmers are vulnerable to so many things beyond our control. Farmers need to be resilient in order to continue farming.”

Brush Fire Threatens Homes in Maui as Hurricane Lane Downgrades to Category 1

 “Hurricane Lane, which was just downgraded to a Category 1 storm, is still very dangerous because of the extreme rainfall. But ironically, Maui could use the rain. (Video by Don McCuaig/YouTube)”

“Hurricane Lane, which was just downgraded to a Category 1 storm, is still very dangerous because of the extreme rainfall. But ironically, Maui could use the rain. (Video by Don McCuaig/YouTube)”

When natural hazards collide - Hurricane Lane has brought the winds and fueled fires in West Maui. We are wishing for everyone’s safety there and across the state.

From the Source:

Then in the morning hours, a new threat emerged in Maui - brush fires starting in Lahaina and moving up the west side of the island. The winds from the hurricane and dry conditions were fueling these fires.

ABC7 Meteorologist Mike Nicco says as the hurricane comes closer to Maui, those winds will pick up. "A hurricane is coming, the last thing you want is rain because you know there's going to be flooding," Nicco said. "You've already seen the flooding on the Big Island and that's what's coming, but to help out that fire, you could use some rain and so far they haven't seen much."

One woman was treated for burns and some residents in Kaanapali and Lahaina were evacuated, including former Bay Area news photographer Don McCuaig. He lives near the area where the fire is now spreading in Kaanapali Hillside, and shared video of the blaze.

"The fire is literally going horizontally," McCuaig said. "They have evacuated everybody out. Our street is being evacuated."

Brush Fire Near Kahe Power Plant Burnt Almost 300 Acres

 Credit: KITV4

Credit: KITV4

A woman was treated for smoke inhalation. Flames got as close as 10 ft. to some homes in the Kahe Point area but no structure suffered damages. 

The fire was reportedly started by an arc from the power plant as a result of wire contact due to storm conditions. 

2018 Has Been a Wild Year for Wildfires, Far Surpassing Numbers Since 2015

  "HFD keeps up with a busy season for brush fires in the summer months." Credit: Hawaii News Now

"HFD keeps up with a busy season for brush fires in the summer months." Credit: Hawaii News Now

2018 wildfire season has kept firefighters busy, scorched native forests, forced numerous evacuations, burned homes and businesses...and it is only August.

As Hurricane Lane approaches, threatening to add another impact to the list, post-fire flooding and landslides, we want to remind you that there is a lot you can do to protect your home and family from wildfires. Great tips provided by HPD, aligned with Wildfire LOOKOUT! info.

From the Source:

Combined, more than 30,000 acres total across Hawaii have been blackened by wildfires this year alone. That's compared to 2017 where nearly 7,700 acres were burned, according to the Pacific Fire Exchange's 2017 wildfire summary.

Capt. Seguirant says the easiest way to reduce the risk is by maintaining homes and yards in dry summer months, and keeping brush trimmed back. It's also important to clear porches, gutters and declutter outdoor spaces. 

"Just remove any wood piles, lumber, anything that can actually catch on fire," he said. "You want to make sure you put those things away. Trim back your fire break. Make sure there's 10 to 30 feet of cleared brush between your home."

Falling embers could land and could spark a fire, he said. While grilling outdoors, ensure proper safety precautions are in place and there is no dry brush around. Dispose of hot coal properly, in fire-safe bins provided at many county parks.

HFD also reminds everyone to have an emergency evacuation kit and a plan ready just in case wildfires threaten homes.

"Be ready to evacuate. Get your 'Go Bag.' When you get the call to quickly leave, at that point, belongings and material things can be replaced," Capt. Seguirant said. 

He says before evacuating, secure your home by locking doors and closing windows to prevent embers from entering the house, and possibly causing your home to go up in flames. 

Brush Fire Prompts Evacuation of Palamanui Campus

  "Firefighters battle a fire on Ane Keohokalole Highway near Palamanui Tuesday afternoon." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

"Firefighters battle a fire on Ane Keohokalole Highway near Palamanui Tuesday afternoon." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

From the Source:

The fire, reported around 1:45 p.m., is burning vacant land north of Kaiminani Drive and makai of Ane Keohokalole Highway.

As of 3:20 p.m., fire officials said 80-100 acres had been burned and was not under control.

Hawaii Community College — Palamanui officials said the campus was evacuated about 3 p.m. All afternoon and evening classes have been canceled.

Hokukano Ranch Fire Burns 350 Acres

 Hokukano Ranch fire as detected by NASA satellite.

Hokukano Ranch fire as detected by NASA satellite.

From the Source:

Firefighters are working to douse a brush fire ignited by lightning Sunday afternoon in a remote area of Hokukano Ranch.

Responding to a 2:04 p.m. report, firefighters from Captain Cook arrived at the scene 7 miles up Hokukano Ranch Road to find two moderate-sized brush fires burning about 50 acres in a very remote area with no radio or phone coverage, according to a media release from the Hawaii Fire Department. The department noted that someone witnessed lightning strikes in the area around the time the fire started.

Drought in West Hawaii Increases Risk of Wildfires Running Rampant Already

  "North Kona, seen from the Highway 190 scenic lookout, is brown and dry from the ongoing drought." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

"North Kona, seen from the Highway 190 scenic lookout, is brown and dry from the ongoing drought." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Did you know 99 percent of wildfires in Hawaii are started by people? This West Hawaii Today article written by reporter Max Dible, explores the effects of drought on wildfire. 

Check out HawaiiWildfire.org/lookout for tips on what you can do to help protect your home and family from wildfire.

From the Source:

Tamara Hynd, program and operations assistant with the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said wildfires have already burned through roughly 34,000 acres across the state, more than double the yearly average of 17,000 with more than four months of a dry year yet to go.

“Drought always plays a factor because the longer it goes on, the more intense it gets,” she said. “Your larger fuels begin to dry out more and more.”

Some advice she offered to mitigate risk is to avoid parking on dry grass because heat from exhaust systems can ignite it, or to keep heavy machinery like welding equipment and weed whackers away from dry areas, as such work can result in sparks that start fires.

Hynd said it was repair to heavy equipment that was the catalyst for the wildfire that ignited in Volcano earlier this month.

People who keep their grass short, their rain gutters free of debris and who have a water source and/or fire extinguisher on hand are also less likely to cause accidental wildfires, she said.

VIDEO: Mauna Loa Brush Fire Update From NPS

  “Briefing map used to chart the brush fire fight on Mauna Loa.” Credit: Big island Video News

“Briefing map used to chart the brush fire fight on Mauna Loa.” Credit: Big island Video News

From the Source:

“With the cooler and wetter weather, firefighters are focusing on mop-up and patrol of firelines,” a recent National Park Service media release stated. “They are also starting the process of back-haul, returning equipment and supplies used on the fire, by strategically bringing those resources back to be cleaned and refurbished. Additionally, fire crews are working with park biologists along the park boundary to assess fences and to carefully fall a limited number of trees that became hazards from the fire. Together they are also analyzing any potential impacts from the fire suppression efforts such as bulldozer lines that were created to stop the spread of the fire.”

Wahiawa Brush Fire Scorches 75 Acres of Land

 The Wahiawa Fire could be seen from miles away. Credit: Savaughn Johnson

The Wahiawa Fire could be seen from miles away. Credit: Savaughn Johnson

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters are investigating the cause of a Wahiawa brush fire that charred 75 acres of land on Whitmore Avenue Friday night.

Police shut down Kamehameha Highway from Dole Plantation to Whitmore Avenue as city and federal fire crews worked to douse the flames.

HFD officials believe the fire started on Saipan Road, which leads to a military installation. The area, which has a homeless encampment, is known for illegal dumping.

20 Acre Fire Near Auwahi Windfarm on Maui

 The fire occurred in the vicinity of the Auwahi Wind Farm located in leeward Haleakala.

The fire occurred in the vicinity of the Auwahi Wind Farm located in leeward Haleakala.

We are glad all are okay at Auwahi Wind. They have been a great partner in Kahikinui's Firewise Community efforts. Recently, they contributed $10,000 to the Hawaiian homestead community for a new community entrance and fuels reduction.

From the Source:

The Piʻilani Highway (Hwy 31) at Mile Marker 20 in ʻUlupalakua is now OPEN.  The road was temporarily closed in both directions for about an hour and a half while crews responded to a brush fire in the area of the Auwahi Wind Farm.

Puako Brush Fire Scorches 3 Acres, Started by Powerline

 " Firefighters work to douse a brush fire Thursday morning in Puako." Credit: Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today

"Firefighters work to douse a brush fire Thursday morning in Puako." Credit: Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today

One of the more unusual starts for a wildfire, but accidents happen and it is best to always be prepared for the next fire. We are glad to hear this fire didn't get any larger and impact the Firewise Community, Puako.

From the Source:

Battalion Chief John Whitman said the fire appeared to have started from a short on a Hawaii Electric Light Co. utility pole in the area. He said fire rescue personnel in South Kohala heard a loud explosion and then saw smoke. They subsequently reported it to dispatch and went to the scene.

Rhea Lee-Moku, HELCO spokeswoman, said personnel responded to the fire and are still working to determine its cause. However, she said a mynah bird appears to have contacted HELCO equipment by Hoohana Street, sparking the fire.

Leeward Farmers Rebuild as HPD Continues Search for West Side Arsonist

  "Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast." (Image: Hawaii News Now)

"Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast." (Image: Hawaii News Now)

From the Source:

Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast earlier this month.

Two of those fires burned 8,800 acres in Makaha and Waianae. The most destructive fire started in Waianae Valley just outside Ka Ala farm.

Eric Enos operates the cultural learning center there and says he has no doubts the fire was arson. He also says it's not the first time something like this has happened in the area.

Just down Waianae Valley Road, employees at Angels Scrap Yard estimate fires damaged about 90 percent of their inventory.

Several farmers in the area are also working to recover after fire burned over crops and damaged buildings.

He knows there is no quick fix, but Enos says putting a gate at the end of Waianae Valley Road could help keep track of people coming into the area, and deter criminals from entering.

"It's a hassle but if you look at the road, the stolen cars, the dumping, it adds up and it's millions of dollars worth of damage," Enos said.

The Conversation: Fire Campaign - Look Out for Wildfires!

 Credit: Flickr

Credit: Flickr

Check out our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, on Hawaii's popular radio program The Conversation talk about Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization spearheading a messaging campaign called Wildfire LOOKOUT!

From the Source:

This has been a wild few weeks. We are talking wildfires...from California to Oahu’s west side, to the Big Island where firefighters are still working to protect special ecological areas, cultural heritage sites from being destroyed. A management team from California which has been helping the National Park Service as most of the blaze is within park boundaries.  This week the Hawaii Wildfire organization is launching a campaign to get the public to take steps now to prevent the start a wildfire.

Waianae Wildfire Destroys One Family's Home - Fundraiser Launched

 Credit: KHON2

Credit: KHON2

A resilient spirit rises from the ashes. This hard-working family who lost their home in the Waianae Fire are showing what it means to stay positive even in the face of incredible trauma and loss.

Learn how you can protect your home and family with a few simple steps by downloading the Hawaii ReadySetGo! Wildland Fire Action Guide.

From the Source:

Turns out farm land wasn't the only thing destroyed by the weekend's wildfires in West Oahu. One family says they lost the place they called home.    

Originally from Thailand, the Jairuan family lived and worked on one of of the farm lands. While they lost their home and everything in it, they're grateful no one was seriously hurt. 

All the family can do right now is rely on the support of friends and family as they pick up the pieces, but Jairuan is rising above the ashes and staying positive. 

"This happened for a reason. This window is closed and the other one will open. Something will happen, something good will happen," he said.

Jairuan's friends have started a fundraiser for the family, to view please click here.

Waianae Brush Fire Damages 17-Lots at Waianae Agricultural Park

 Credit: KITV4

Credit: KITV4

It pains us to hear this news - we know how much sweat, toil, and care goes into farming. If you are a farmer who was impacted by the fire, we are with you. HDOA's Agricultural Loan Division is also offering the farmers financial assistance since the state essentially owns the park.

If you are a farmer or rancher or manage large areas of land, the ReadySetGo! wildfire preparedness guide has a detailed step-by-step guide on how to prepare your lands for wildfire. Also, Pacific Fire Exchange has great resources for developing your own pre-fire  plans.

From the Source:

The brush fire in Waianae damaged all 17 state-lots at Wai'anae Agricultural Park. 

The 150-acre park is home to crops like tomatoes, kale and palms. After the fire ripped through Waianae Valley, what's left are its charred remains. 

The Waianae Ag Park is one of 10 in the state of Hawaii and one of four on Oahu. The state's Department of Agriculture says all 17 lots in Waianae suffered damages in the brush fire: four are total losses.

Apart from crops, several structures on those farm lots were destroyed. Some even lost vehicles, tools and equipment in the fire. The state says irrigation systems were also severely damaged

Kauai Firefighters Respond to 4 Back-to-Back Brush Fires

 Kauai firefighters from the Waimea station responding to wildfires on Wednesday. Credit: Brian Howell / Flickr

Kauai firefighters from the Waimea station responding to wildfires on Wednesday. Credit: Brian Howell / Flickr

Kauai firefighters responded to four separate fires across the Garden Isle on Wednesday.

The causes for all four fires remain under investigation, and anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Kauai Police Department at 808-241-1711.

Crews Busy with Flare-ups as Wildfires in Waianae, Makaha Near 9,000 Acres

From the Source:

With 8,800 acres already burned, there's still no end in sight for two wildfires in Leeward Oahu.

On Tuesday, the Department of Education announced Leihoku and Makaha elementary schools reopened after flames got dangerously close to the schools on Monday forcing officials to cancel what was supposed to be the first day of classes.

 NASA FIRMS satellite imagery of Oahu fires (most current areas that are burning as of Aug. 7 12 pm). Orange and red are different satellites.

NASA FIRMS satellite imagery of Oahu fires (most current areas that are burning as of Aug. 7 12 pm). Orange and red are different satellites.

 NASA FIRMS satellite imagery of Oahu fires (burn areas since the start of the fires). Orange and red are different satellites.

NASA FIRMS satellite imagery of Oahu fires (burn areas since the start of the fires). Orange and red are different satellites.

 

"The fuel load is very dry. It's been a hot summer. We haven't had a fire in a long time. There's a lot of fuel load out there, so all of these things are combining," said [Battalion Chief Howard] Naone. "Right now, everybody's kind of relaxed. These guys were on duty on Saturday, so they're tired, and they're trying to not rush. Rushing leads to injuries and leads to people getting hurt and bad decisions like that, so we're just trying to take our time."

"We're taxing the total island of resources. Engines are coming from the windward side of the island. They're coming from town. They're coming from as far away as Kahuku to come here and fight the fire," said Naone.