Every Second Counts! Home Escape Planning Is Critical in a Fire Situation

MFD fire safety presentation. Credit: Lahaina News

MFD fire safety presentation. Credit: Lahaina News

Important tips on evacuation planning from our friends at Maui Fire Department. You can find more tips and evacuation planning templates in the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide - Hawaii version.

From the Source: 

"Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory," said Jeffrey Murray, fire chief of the Maui Fire Department.

"That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire."

"In support of Fire Prevention Week, all Maui County households are encouraged to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas.

It also includes two ways out of every room - usually a door and a window - with a clear path to an outside meeting place (such as a tree, light pole or mailbox) that's a safe distance from the home."

The Power of Insurance Incentives to Promote Fire Adapted Communities

"Where wildfire meets homes, the fire suppression response may protect homes but distort the full cost of insuring the homes from wildfires. Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, 2012." Credit: USFS

"Where wildfire meets homes, the fire suppression response may protect homes but distort the full cost of insuring the homes from wildfires. Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, 2012." Credit: USFS

HWMO is exploring creative ways to motivate people and communities to action. One technique that some states are using is the power of the economic incentives. Check out this article written by a friend of the organization, Mr. Rob Galbraith, Director of Property Underwriting at USAA. We have opened discussions with the Division of Insurance and some companies such as USAA to offer insurance reduction rates for Firewise Communities. 

From the Source:

"I have attended several community meetings — co-presenting with local fire departments to encourage homeowners to take proactive steps to mitigate their exposure to the threat of loss from wildland fire. And the impact of combining intangible benefits (e.g., life safety, avoidance of property and financial loss) with tangible benefits (e.g., discount on homeowners insurance, recognition as a Firewise community through signage) can be a powerful motivator."

"Requirements by insurance carriers for property owners to take steps to mitigate their exposure to property losses from wildland fire can be a powerful motivator — when those requirements adhere to scientifically-based principles. Government entities may have similar levers in the form of citations, fines, fees, tax withholdings, etc. when property owners are not in accordance with local regulations and ordinances, but these generally are not as impactful as an insurance carrier’s refusal to continue coverage.

However, at times the requirements from insurance carriers can be counter-productive as they impose unreasonable or unnecessary burdens on homeowners. For example, a carrier may require 100 feet of clear cutting to create defensible space around the home, but the property line to the adjacent parcel may be within 100 ft. Removing vegetation may also run afoul of local ordinances on the size and types of trees that may be cut down. Finally, these requirements from carriers may not be performed reasonably in the amount of time given and may give the homeowner misleading direction on the prioritization of mitigation actions, namely starting 0-5 feet from the structure and moving outward over time."

Firefighters Douse Brush Fire That Came Close to Makakilo Homes

Photo credit: KFVE

Photo credit: KFVE

Another close-call with brushfires in Makakilo -- this time the fire came within 30 feet of homes on Friday afternoon, burning three to five acres. 

From the Source:

"A fast-moving brush fire in Makakilo came close to homes Friday, but was doused quickly.

The blaze neared homes Friday afternoon, at times coming within 30 feet.

The fire started about 2:50 p.m., and was under control by about 3:45 p.m.

An estimated three to five acres were burned, and a shed also caught on fire."

58 Acres Scorched in Paʻia and Haʻiku Brush Fires

Photo Credit: Anna Kim / Maui Now

Photo Credit: Anna Kim / Maui Now

With very strong trade winds blowing and continuing dry conditions, be on the Wildfire Lookout! and evacuate early. Six homes were evacuated on the makai side of Hana Highway on Maui for a fire that came to within five feet of the homes. 

"Forty-two minutes after the Pāʻia fire was extinguished, crews responded to reports of a brush fire makai-side of Hāna Highway at the Ha‘ikū Road intersection at 6:32 p.m. When Pāʻia crews arrived 10 minutes later, a half acre of land was already scorched.

'Crews had just left the scene of the Pāʻia fire and didn’t even make it back to the station when they responded to the second fire,' Chief Taomoto said."

'When you’re in an open field with nothing going on, you start eliminating the potential igniting sources—structures and power lines, human habitation—and you come up with nothing, so there is the potential human cause and someone fled the scene,' he said.

Chief Taomoto said if the conditions are right and multiple factors line-up perfectly something as simple as a cigarette thrown out of a window could start some of the roadside fires. However, he said it’s suspicious when there are multiple fires within a small area, he used the three small grass fires off the Pali last month as an example."

VIDEO: Officials Warn of Fire Danger in Dry Season

Big Island Video News screen capture from October 19, 2017 video.

Big Island Video News screen capture from October 19, 2017 video.

Courtesy of the 40+ partners including HWMO issuing a "Wildfire LOOKOUT!" advisory. 

From the Source:

"State officials are warning that Hawai‘i fire danger is currently high across the state and will remain so until normal winter precipitation sets in.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says the state has experienced persistent and worsening drought conditions since July, with wildfire activity ramping up over the last month. 'Unlike most of the U.S., fire season in Hawai‘i is year around,' DLNR wrote in a media advisory. 'Residents and visitors are urged to prevent fire ignitions from starting: be careful with equipment that may spark, do not park or idle cars on dry grass, and completely extinguish all campfires.'

'Also, a wildfire can quickly turn into a subdivision fire, such as the recent and devastating wildfires in California and other states,' DLNR stated. 'This can happen in Hawai‘i too, but residents can take action to protect their homes and prevent the spread of fire.'”

City Says Improper Charcoal Dumping Burned Shower Tree

Credit: KITV

Credit: KITV

From the Source:

"The city Department of Parks and Recreation is asking the public to be more careful when using fire. It says the dumping of charcoals at the base of a shower tree at a Windward Oahu beach park and campground resulted the tree’s destruction last weekend."

"The Department of Parks and Recreation would like to take this opportunity to remind park users and campers to properly dispose of their charcoal, burnt wood, or other organic fire-fueling material in the designated charcoal disposal bins," urges the city via a press release.

"Disposing of these materials in regular trash cans, near trees, on other plant life, or on the beach, poses a safety and environmental hazard. The coals may appear to be extinguished but can be reignited. This is especially true if you bury used coals in the sand. The sand insulates the heat of the embers and can keep them hot for hours. This poses a severe safety hazard to other beachgoers who cannot see the danger just beneath the surface. In the past, this has resulted in significant injury."

HWMO Highlight on the Conversation

Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

Thank you to The Conversation on HPR for highlighting the wildfire issue and having HWMO's Elizabeth Pickett as a guest on the show! Peak wildfire season is not over (and in Hawaii, fire season is all year long) so stay vigilant, have a plan, and evacuate early.

From the Source:

"Hawaii has its own problem with wildfires, and each summer seems to bring a rash of fires that are mostly caused by people – some accidental, many of them deliberate. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization compiles the available data about each year’s wildfires."

Amid The Horrors Of Wildfire, A Tale Of Survival And Singed Whiskers

NPR Article_10_17_17_image31-8f82cf86d4515949ba78a675845ff4fe6bd9bcdd-s800-c85.jpg

It has been heavy news, one after another, with the California wildfires alone (not to mention the numerous destructive hurricanes this summer). We thought we'd share this incredible story of survival (of both humans and pets) for a glimpse at the silver-linings that can exist during such tremendous disasters. Added bonus, the story reveals how strategic, controlled grazing can literally save lives!

From the Source:

"What they discovered was both the worst and the best of outcomes. The house was gone, the trucks were gone, everything was ash and gray.

Except for the goats.

All eight of them had survived. Odin did, too, limping, with singed fur and melted whiskers. But his tail still wagged. Hendel thinks he knows what happened."

"As he shuffled through some things — watching objects disintegrate into ash as he poked at them — he heard the noise. It was unmistakable: a bleat that could only come from a goat. There, standing in the drive were Lucy and Ethel, singed and hungry and fine. Somebody, probably the firefighters, had even left them a bowl of water. He has no real idea how they survived, only a theory.

'All I can think is the pasture was just low grass and so the fire couldn't sustain itself there.'"

Portugal Fires: Three Days of National Mourning for Wildfire Victims

"Fires continued into Monday night, despite rainfall in some affected areas." Credit: AFP

"Fires continued into Monday night, despite rainfall in some affected areas." Credit: AFP

As we mourn the losses from the California wildfires, we also send our deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in the Portugal and Spain fires. 

From the Source:

"At least 41 people died after hundreds of fires spread across central and northern areas on Sunday and Monday.

They started in dry conditions and were fanned by strong Atlantic winds from Hurricane Ophelia.

Across the border in Spain, at least four people died in wildfires in the Galicia region.

However, a one-month-old baby who was believed to have died in Portugal's Tabua area has been found alive, the civil protection authorities told the Portuguese press."

"Residents said they had little time to react. 'The fire came at the foot of the village and spread at an incredible rate,' Jose Morais, who lives in Vouzela in the Viseu region, told AFP news agency.

'It felt like the end of the world. Everyone fled.'"

Crews Respond to Flare Up of Fire West of Omaopio and Pulehu Road

Area where fire occurred - west of Omaopio and Pulehu Road junction.

Area where fire occurred - west of Omaopio and Pulehu Road junction.

From the Source:

"A series of brush fires that kept firefighters busy last week rekindled Sunday night, forcing crews to return to the area west of the Omaopio and Pulehu road junction, fire officials said.

The flare-up at about 8:30 p.m. occurred inside the perimeter of one of three fires, about a half-mile to a mile apart, that began Oct. 9, Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said."

"Although the fire was declared 100 percent contained Thursday afternoon and has not spread beyond firebreaks carved out by bulldozers, large areas of unburned fuel remain inside containment lines, Taomoto said. That is where flare-ups have been occurring.

In addition, difficult-to-reach areas with large kiawe trees and heavy brush on the mauka edges were making it challenging for firefighters to fully extinguish the fires, Taomoto said."

Officials: Kihei Brush Fires Appear Suspicious

Credit: Asa Ellison / KFVE

Credit: Asa Ellison / KFVE

From the Source:

"The blazes near Kihei started in four places — and miles apart. They've burned about 100 acres.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the blazes were about 75 percent contained.

Officials said the fires appeared to be suspicious, but a cause has not yet been determined."

Fire Burns 20 Acres in Laupahoehoe Tuesday October 3

Google Maps view of Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection where fire occurred on October 3.

Google Maps view of Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection where fire occurred on October 3.

From the Source:

"Fire/Rescue crews responded to a 10:43 a.m. alarm Tuesday (Oct 3) to the Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection for a brush fire in Laupahoehoe.

Crews found a brushfire in vacant land buring 10-12 foot tall grass. The fire rapidly spread due to gusty trade winds at 25-35 mph. By 12:30 p.m. the fire was under control and had burned about 20 acres."

Family Behind Hawaiian Fire-Throwing Ritual Apologizes for Brush Fire

Makana Fire. Photo Credit: Richard Berry / KFVE

Makana Fire. Photo Credit: Richard Berry / KFVE

We commend the family who accidentally ignited the fire for taking the courage and responsibility for publically apologizing for their actions. We deeply respect that reviving ancient cultural practices is important, but it is still critical to be aware of your surroundings and dry/windy conditions whether building an imu or practicing ʻOahi O Makana. Vegetation and climate conditions have changed drastically over the centuries (even more so in the past few decades). Many wet forests were once ecosystems covered with native forests that had very few wildfire occurrences if any. However, much of these forests have been taken over by much more fire-prone, invasive species and have experienced more and more days of drier conditions than before. We must continue to adapt to these changing conditions whether it is through vegetation control methods or cultural practices, etc. This fire will hopefully continue these important conversations. We are interested to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments below.

From the Source:

"'It wasn't an intention to start anything to hurt anybody or to stop any roads. There was never that intention. If that happened on behalf of the family we apologize,' McCarthy said.

Ancient Hawaiians held the ceremony to mark great occasions and special ceremonies.

'This is something they mentally, physically have to prepare themselves for,' McCarthy said.

The pair carried Hau branches to light, twirl and throw. McCarthy thinks wind grabbed the embers and blew them back onto the mountain."

Makana Fire on Kauai Likely Caused by Hawaiian Fire-Throwing Ritual

Credit: DLNR

Credit: DLNR

Stay updated on the Makana Fire: https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiDLNR/

Dry conditions statewide - be fire safe by visiting Wildfire Lookout!

From the Source:

"Photos taken Tuesday evening on Kauai depict ‘Oahi O Makana – a ceremony in which a flaming spear is thrown from cliffs high above sea level – as part of a welcoming ritual for the voyaging canoe Hokulea.

Firefighters from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources remain on the scene of the fire, which has grown to approximately 100 square acres. Authorities say the blaze is burning between Haena State Park and Limahuli Gardens.

The park remains closed to visitors, as does access to the popular Kalalau Trail. Park officials say rangers are posted at the hike's trailhead and are turning would-be adventure-goers around."


"'About 90% of the state has been in drought conditions since July so we've sort of been watching the weather and known that it's been primed for fires to start. but it's just been the past week that we've seen the activity kind of spike,' said Clay Trauernicht, a wildfire specialist with the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension."

Brush Fire in Poipu Burns 215 Acres, Destroys Heavy Machinery

Destructive aftermath of the 215-acre Poipu fire. Credit: Kauai County

Destructive aftermath of the 215-acre Poipu fire. Credit: Kauai County

A busy week of wildfires across the state continues. This time a destructive fire on Kauai destroyed heavy machinery, trucks, and equipment in Poipu. Thankfully no one was injured, but the damages inflicted certainly remind us of the importance of being prepared far in advance of a fire. Check out Wildfire Lookout! for steps you can take to prepare your home and family for wildfire.

From the Source:

About 215 acres were burned, and heavy machinery, trucks and equipment that was stored at a green waste baseyard in the area were destroyed.

"'Thank you to our first responders who worked tirelessly for hours in extreme conditions to ensure the safety of our southside community,' Fire Chief Robert Westerman said. 'The Fire Department also appreciates all the help provided by the community, and we are fortunate that the fire did not reach any homes or cause injuries.'"

Haleakala Highway Cane Fire Consumes 100 Acres of Fallow Land

"Football fans at War Memorial Stadium watch a game Thursday night while a brush fire lights up Central Maui and blackens former sugar cane fields. The blaze was fully contained at 2:03 a.m. Friday. It consumed about 100 acres. A cause had not been determined as of Friday night. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo"

"Football fans at War Memorial Stadium watch a game Thursday night while a brush fire lights up Central Maui and blackens former sugar cane fields. The blaze was fully contained at 2:03 a.m. Friday. It consumed about 100 acres. A cause had not been determined as of Friday night. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo"

With more and more lands going fallow, fire will continue to be on the rise in places like Central Maui where acres upon acres of cane are no longer being managed. Creative land management solutions that reduce wildfire risk will need to continue to be part of the discussion as we move forward. Thank you to Maui firefighters for keeping this fire at bay!

From the Source:

"Passing motorists alerted firefighters at 3:56 p.m. Thursday to the fire that started on the south grassy shoulder of Haleakala Highway in the vicinity of North Firebreak Road, he said. Kahului firefighters were on the scene at 4:04 p.m., and by then it had grown to 2 to 3 acres and could not be contained.

Gusty trade winds fanned the fire, spreading it quickly into a fallow cane field, Taomoto said."

Wailuku Brush Fire Scorches 4 Acres

Wailuku Brush Fire on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Credit: Ryan Brem / Maui Now

Wailuku Brush Fire on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Credit: Ryan Brem / Maui Now

Time and time again, access is a critical issue for our firefighters in Hawaii. Some access issues are very preventable but will take cooperation and communication from landowners with firefighters. Thankfully, because of firefighting efforts, this fire did not get larger than it could have.

From the Source:

"Crews had trouble getting to the fire because of an abandoned vehicle blocking an old plantation road off of the highway.

Firefighters had to park on Kahekili Highway and ran hoses about 100 yards through the brush to get to the fire."

Hawaii Island Firefighters Contain 1,600-Acre Kau Blaze

"This photo, taken in the Mark Twain subdivision, shows a fire that was reported near Waikapuna Bay." (Photo courtesy/Alan Gervasi)

"This photo, taken in the Mark Twain subdivision, shows a fire that was reported near Waikapuna Bay." (Photo courtesy/Alan Gervasi)

Even with terrain that was very difficult to access and unfavorable windy and dry conditions, firefighters were able to put out this large wildfire between Waikapuna Bay and Naalehu town in Kau. Mahalo to all of the first responders for their courage and persistence!

From the Source:

"Hawai‘i Island firefighters finally contained a large brush fire on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, that started on Thursday along the coastline between Waikapuna Bay and Na‘alehu town in the Ka‘ū District."

"The fire continued to burn through uneven terrain with variable fuel-vegetation mixtures.

The rugged terrain in the area enables only limited 4-by-4 vehicle access and air access.

The area is primarily cattle pasture, with some native trees and archeology."

Haleakala Highway and South Point Fires Burn on Maui and Big Island

Be on the alert - with drought conditions and strong winds, fires can become out of control or change direction quickly and can threaten homes, roadways, or other critical areas. Take precaution and stay tuned to local radio stations and county alerts. And remember to evacuate early should the fire become a threat to your neighborhood.

From the Source:

"On Maui, fighters are battling a fire along Haleakala Highway on the ground and by air. The fire was reported just before 4 p.m., and has since scorched 80 to 100 acres of old sugar cane crop."

Haleakala Highway Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Asa Ellison / Hawaii News Now

Haleakala Highway Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Asa Ellison / Hawaii News Now

Kaalualu Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Kane Thomas

Kaalualu Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Kane Thomas

"On Hawaii Island, a large brush fire near South Point in Ka'u has forced crews to issue a warning to residents.

They say the smoke could make it hard to see and make it harder to breathe near Waiohinu. Residents are being asked to stay out of the area.

Emergency responders say the fire broke out about 4 hours ago in Kaalualu. 

Fire crews can't expect much help from the weather in battling the flames either.

Winds are running at brisk speeds throughout the state making it difficult for firefighters to extinguish both fires. Rain is also scarce in those areas, and fire crews will remain on scene." 

Another Maui Fire Breaks Out, This Time Near Lahianaluna High School

"Lahainaluna fire, Sept. 18, at about 1 p.m." Credit: Madonna Taganap

"Lahainaluna fire, Sept. 18, at about 1 p.m." Credit: Madonna Taganap

Another day, another fire on Maui this week -- this time in Lahaina near Lahainaluna High School. Have everything you need to be prepared? Check through the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide to make sure you are ready before the next one.

From the Source:

"West Maui fire crews responded to a brush fire near the Lahainaluna High School campus at 12:56 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017,

Multiple callers reported viewing the smoke from the Lahaina bypass.

Lahaina firefighters arrived on scene at 1:12 p.m. and found about an acre of dry grass and brush burning in a vacant lot above the school’s football field."