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."

Maui Brush Fires Along Airport Access Road and Road to "Jaws"

Maui firefighters were kept busy on Sunday with a 3-acre fire along the road to the famous "Jaws" surf break in Peahi and a 300-foot-long strip near Panda Express and Walmart in Kahului. The return of the prevailing trade winds helped fuel the fires, but thanks to our firefighters, they were put out relatively quickly. Fair warning though, when the winds are blowing and the grass and brush is as dry as it is right now, it's a recipe for wildfires.

From the Source:

General location of fire in Peahi. Google Maps

General location of fire in Peahi. Google Maps

General location of fire near Airport Access Road. Google Maps

General location of fire near Airport Access Road. Google Maps

“'It was windy, so it was probably spreading pretty fast by the time they got there,' Taomoto said.

The crew had the fire contained by 2:46 p.m. and extinguished by 2:53 p.m. In total, the fire burned an area about 10 feet wide and 300 feet long.

The fire did not damage any properties or cause any injuries, though crews had to wake up an older male who was sleeping under a tree about 6 feet away from the fire, according to Taomoto."

Kihei Brush Fire Chars 5 Acres

"Maui Fire Department trucks are lined up along Piilani Highway in Kihei on Saturday afternoon while firefighters battle a brush fire mauka of the highway near the Kaonoulu Street intersection." Credit: The Maui News / Colleen Uechi

"Maui Fire Department trucks are lined up along Piilani Highway in Kihei on Saturday afternoon while firefighters battle a brush fire mauka of the highway near the Kaonoulu Street intersection." Credit: The Maui News / Colleen Uechi

September is slated to be a busy time for wildfire -- be vigilant and have a plan to evacuate early. 

From the Source:

"A fire in Kihei burned up to 5 acres of brush before it was contained Saturday, a fire official said.

The fire was reported at 2:24 p.m. mauka of Piilani Highway near the Kaonoulu Street intersection, Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 2:48 p.m. to find approximately one-half of an acre burning."

Is All That Wildfire Smoke Damaging My Lungs?

"Residents of the community of Tujunga, Calif., flee a fire near Burbank on Sept. 2. Even people much farther from the flames are feeling health effects from acrid smoke." (David McNew/Getty Images)

"Residents of the community of Tujunga, Calif., flee a fire near Burbank on Sept. 2. Even people much farther from the flames are feeling health effects from acrid smoke." (David McNew/Getty Images)

It's been a rough year for North America when it comes to wildfire smoke. This new NPR report has some good information on the risks of wildfire smoke and how you can keep as much smoke as possible from entering your lungs.

From the Source:

"A standard dust mask that you can buy at the pharmacy won't do you much good, Thomas says. It may keep out the large pieces of ash, but it also may cause you to inhale more deeply, and it won't filter out the microscopic particles that can get into your lungs. An N95 mask can filter out 95 percent of smoke particles, but only if it's fitted properly and dirty air doesn't leak around the sides.

In addition to the particulates, there are gases like carbon monoxide and cyanide in wildfire smoke, but these are more of a danger to firefighters who work close to the flames and are exposed year after year, says Thomas.

The rest of us shouldn't worry too much about long-term damage, even if the smoke persists for a few days or weeks. "I don't want to downplay the significance of the symptoms that many of us are feeling," Thomas says. "But the good news is, they go away. They'll resolve quickly, unless you are in one of these high-risk groups."

If you are at high risk, you might want to invest in a high-efficiency particle arresting(HEPA) air filter, which costs around $50 to $300. And when air conditions are bad, avoid burning candles, frying meat, even vacuuming, which can all add more tiny particles to the air. And drink lots of water. The fluid keeps your eyes, nose and throat moist, which can help alleviate irritation."

Wildfires Rage Out West Amid Scorching Temperatures

"A huge wildfire is seen in Los Angeles, Sept. 1, 2017." Credit: Splash News

"A huge wildfire is seen in Los Angeles, Sept. 1, 2017." Credit: Splash News

78 large wildfires (and many more smaller ones) are currently scorching eight western states that are experiencing extreme temperatures -- all of this while the Atlantic Ocean is experiencing the strongest hurricanes on record and Hawaii is facing another year of extreme droughts. These are not anomalies, but signs of a new age in which the climate is reaching new extremes. We must connect the dots. It's all related.

From the Source:

"The La Tuna fire that began last Friday in Los Angeles has scorched over 7,000 acres across Burbank and Glendale, making it the largest fire in the history of Los Angeles, fire department officials said. Firefighters have contained the flames to 80 percent and are actively investigating the cause.

This summer 7.5 million acres were torched in the U.S. from wildfires, ABC News meteorologists said."

9 Honored During Annual Sayre Foundation Awards Dinner

"Dr. Frank Sayre and his wife, Laura Mallery-Sayre, join Gov. Davis Ige and his wife for a photo with the 2017 honorees during the 20th annual Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation Awards Dinner and Fundraiser on Saturday at The Fairmont Orchid on the Kohala Coast." Credit: Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today

"Dr. Frank Sayre and his wife, Laura Mallery-Sayre, join Gov. Davis Ige and his wife for a photo with the 2017 honorees during the 20th annual Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation Awards Dinner and Fundraiser on Saturday at The Fairmont Orchid on the Kohala Coast." Credit: Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today

A toast to the Sayres for their incredible dedication to providing local first responders with the rescue equipment they need and to the nine honorees for their heroic rescue efforts. 

From the Source:

"In the past 20 years, the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation has raised $1.76 million, helping get emergency responders what they need to get the job done.

On a night dedicated to celebrating the impacts they’ve had on the lives they saved, the event’s honorees made special note of the impact the foundation has had on them.

'We’re just doing our job; we don’t do this to be recognized,' said Judd, who was honored for his involvement in resuscitating a heart attack patient and a cliff rescue. 'The heroes are the Sayres and the people behind this organization and those who support it.'"

Firefighter Chili Cook-Off Spices Things Up in Waimea

PTA Fire Chief Eric Moller serves their recipe to Connie Bender at the Chili Cook-Off for Wildfire Prevention Saturday at the Parker Ranch Red Barn. (Laura Ruminski-West Hawaii Today)

PTA Fire Chief Eric Moller serves their recipe to Connie Bender at the Chili Cook-Off for Wildfire Prevention Saturday at the Parker Ranch Red Barn. (Laura Ruminski-West Hawaii Today)

We are ecstatic to see that the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off made the front page of the West Hawaii Today on Monday, August 28! Thank you to everyone who made the cook-off such a wonderful event and successful fundraiser. You can also read more by checking out our blog post.

From the Source:

"The sold out fundraiser for the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) was attended by over 200 guests who sampled and voted for their favorite chili recipe.

HWMO’s mission is dedicated to proactive and collaborative wildfire related education, outreach and technical assistance, project implementation and research.

Money raised will go to the nonprofit organization’s operating costs, according to Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator.

Beimler said 25,000 flyers recently went out to students across the state as part of their school outreach, and coloring books are on their way."

Dry Year So Far for Big Island

"The flood channel that runs under the intersection of Kinoole and Mohouli streets in Hilo was dry Tuesday." Credit - Hollyn Johnson / Hawaii Tribune-Herald

"The flood channel that runs under the intersection of Kinoole and Mohouli streets in Hilo was dry Tuesday." Credit - Hollyn Johnson / Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Drier conditions, even on the wet side, means a higher potential for wildfire. You might live in the green, but when severe droughts occur, anywhere can be at risk for fire. Be prepared, have a plan, and stay vigilant using the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide and Wildfire Lookout!

From the Source:

"Hilo is on pace to have one of its drier years on record, and July’s rainfall totals brought little if any relief to drought-affected areas of the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu."

"'It’s been pretty dry up on the Hamakua Coast and down into the the leeward South Kohala district. They’re considered to be under severe drought as well as the interior section of the Big Island. The eastern side of Pohakuloa Training Area has been pretty dry. The western side has been getting some spotty rain, so some of the gauges there are pretty close to normal,' Kodama said Monday.

The most recent drought statement from the weather service said ranchers in leeward South Kohala 'have destocked pastures' due to 'very poor vegetation conditions.' It noted that pastures in Ookala, where Big Island Dairy operates, and in Paauilo were becoming dry, and a ginger farmer in Umauma reported stunted growth in his crops."

Wildfire Burns Across (Formerly) Icy Greenland

The Sentinel-2 satellite captured a wildfire burning in western Greenland. Credit: Pierre Markuse Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Sentinel-2 satellite captured a wildfire burning in western Greenland. Credit: Pierre Markuse Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It's all connected!

From the Source:

"A series of blazes is burning roughly in the vicinity of Kangerlussuaq, a small town that serves as a basecamp for researchers in the summer to access Greenland’s ice sheet and western glaciers. The largest fire has burned roughly 3,000 acres and sent smoke spiraling a mile into the sky, prompting hunting and hiking closures in the area, according to local news reports."

"The ice has been melting at a quickening pace since 2000, partly due to wildfires in other parts of the world. The uptick in boreal forest fires has kicked up more ash in the atmosphere where prevailing winds have steered it toward the ice sheet.

The dark ash traps more energy from the sun, which has warmed the ice sheet and caused more widespread melting. Soot from massive wildfires in Siberia caused 95 percent of the Greenland ice sheet surface to melt in 2012, a phenomenon that could become a yearly occurrence by 2100 as the planet warms and northern forest fires become more common."

Seattle Chokes as Wildfire Smoke From Canada Blankets the Northwest

"Mount Rainier on a clear day last week, left, and a day later, after a haze had descended, obscuring the view from across Lake Washington." Credit - NWS Seattle, via Twitter

"Mount Rainier on a clear day last week, left, and a day later, after a haze had descended, obscuring the view from across Lake Washington." Credit - NWS Seattle, via Twitter

Wildfire smoke can be harmful to your health, especially if you already have chronic hearth and lung diseases. The CDC recommends when there is brushfire smoke in the area to: 

"Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area."

From the Source:

"Government officials have cautioned people about air quality in a region that is usually known, especially at this time of year, for pristine cobalt skies.

But that has not been the case since last week, as the Pacific Northwest has been inundated by plumes of smoke from Canada, where more than 20 wildfires are blazing. The region has also contended with record-breaking temperatures on some days."

"Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle, part of UW Medicine, has seen 'an increase over the past week in exacerbations in people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema, and also in people who have asthma,' Leila Gray, a spokeswoman for the hospital system, said in an email on Monday evening."

This is How Much of the World is Currently on Fire

"September 2014 Happy Camp Complex Fire in the Klamath National Forest in California." Credit: US Forest Service

"September 2014 Happy Camp Complex Fire in the Klamath National Forest in California." Credit: US Forest Service

These interactive maps and graphics offer a grim look at what we might expect as a new normal with climate change. The world is on fire like never before this year. Hawaii is no exception.

From the Source:

"Here in the United States the Forest Service is reporting that 2017 is shaping up to be a worse than average fire year based on acres of federal, private and state land burned. So far, 5.6 million acres of land has burned this year, or 1.8 million acres more than the ten year average of 3.8 million acres burned by this time."

"Across the border from the United States, fires are also currently scorching Canada’s British Columbia. This is the province’s second worst fire season on record and NASA satellites have identified the conflagration from space."

"On the other side of the globe, if you load up the European Commission’s fire map, it looks like the end of the world, especially in Italy and Romania. So far, an area just slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island has burned. The total is already roughly three times the normal amount of summer wildfires. Back in June, 60 people died over the course of one weekend in Portugal due to wildfires. Thirty people were killed when the fires reached roads on evacuation routes. And as the map makes clear, those fires don’t seem to be abating, in part because of the hotter, drier temperatures."

Wildfire Threat is High for Big Isle

"Tim Weyer tours his ranch, which was consumed by wildfires, Tuesday, in Sand Springs, Mont. Firefighters say they have stopped most of the growth and gained 20 percent containment on the fires that were started last week by lightning." Credit - Associated Press

"Tim Weyer tours his ranch, which was consumed by wildfires, Tuesday, in Sand Springs, Mont. Firefighters say they have stopped most of the growth and gained 20 percent containment on the fires that were started last week by lightning." Credit - Associated Press

Areas of drought have now hit all Hawaiian islands, but leeward Big Island is forecast to have the highest wildfire threat. Regardless of what island you live on, make sure to create defensible space around your home, fire-proof your house, and create an evacuation plan using tips from Wildfire Lookout!

From the Source:

"The threat of major wildfires for the leeward side of Hawaii island will remain high through October, forecasters said today.

All other areas of the state can expect normal conditions through November, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, which produces the forecast.

Sea surface temperatures around the islands are expected to remain above normal through November, helping to raise temperatures throughout the islands, the report said.

A lighter than normal rainfall in July allowed drought conditions to spread across parts of the Big Island, but normal rainfall is now expected and the most critical drought conditions are expected to remain only in leeward areas of the island."

Kunia Brush Fire That Got Dangerously Close to Homes Now Contained

Credit: @katiepuananin/Twitter

Credit: @katiepuananin/Twitter

Big mahalo to firefighters for keeping the Kunia fire that burned hundreds of acres last Thursday from igniting homes. Rather than waiting for the last minute and staying to defend a home with a garden hose, the best way you can protect your home is by preparing far in advance of a wildfire. Check out Wildfire Lookout! and Ready Set Go! Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guide for tips on how to best prepare for wildfire.

From the Source:

"The blaze first sparked around 11:42 a.m., and nearly 50 firefighters worked to put out the the flames, both by air and in several areas on the ground. Smoke could be seen for miles.

Residents also used hoses to wet dry brush.

'It's scary. Big flames!' said resident Shaylin Eligio, earlier in the day. 'It didn't look that bad, but now it is.'

Blustery winds helped the flames jump Kunia Road and race across patches of dry brush. 

In some areas, the flames got within 30 feet of area homes, residents said. No homes were evacuated because of the fire, but several residents opted to leave the area voluntarily because of heavy smoke."

Burnt Vehicle Found Near Center of Paia Fire

Screenshot of Maui Now YouTube video.

Screenshot of Maui Now YouTube video.

From the Source:

Firefighters responded to a brush fire in a fallow sugar cane field about a half-mile south of Baldwin Avenue, near the old Pāʻia Sugar Mill on Wednesday night.

A burnt vehicle was found near the center of the scorched brush, but fire officials say it’s unclear whether the vehicle was involved in the starting of the fire.

Teamwork Extinguishes Kaanapali Brush Fire

Map of Kaanapali. Google Maps

Map of Kaanapali. Google Maps

Although the Kaanapali Hillside fire yesterday came close to homes, a collaborative effort amongst firefighters, large landowners, and public works employees made all the difference in protecting homes. 

From the Source:

"A brush fire mauka of Kaanapali Hillside burned 7 acres and came to about 50 feet of the nearest homes before being doused by firefighters Wednesday afternoon, a fire official said."

"Two helicopters and crews from Lahaina, Napili and Wailea and tankers from Lahaina and Kahului, a hazmat unit from Kahului and a battalion chief were called to battle the blaze, Taomoto said. Firefighters received help from Kaanapali Coffee Farms, which provided a bulldozer; West Maui Land Co., which provided a water tanker; and the county Public Works Department, which also provided a tanker."

French Riviera: 12,000 Flee Bushfires as Planes Waterbomb Popular Tourist Coast

"An aerial view shows plumes of smoke on the outskirts of Bormes-les-Mimosas." Credit: Nadine Achoui-Lesage/AP

"An aerial view shows plumes of smoke on the outskirts of Bormes-les-Mimosas." Credit: Nadine Achoui-Lesage/AP

We are wishing for the safety of all those in harm's way in France (as well as Portugal and Italy). 

From the Source:

"Backed by planes dropping water and fire retardant, more than 1,000 firefighters are battling bushfires billowing smoke into the sky over France's southern Cote d'Azur, forcing the evacuation of at least 12,000 people.

The blaze was the latest of several wind-whipped fires ravaging forest and scrubland on the hills and slopes that spill into the Mediterranean Sea.

France's Prime Minister, visiting the area, predicted a grim day ahead.

Large swaths of Mediterranean forest had been left bare and blackened after three days of fires. About 250 trailer homes, a hangar, an atelier and several vehicles were burned in the blazes, but no-one had been injured so far, the prefect of the Var region said."

"In central Portugal on Wednesday, billowing smoke made visibility too poor to use water-dropping aircraft on the region's flaming pine and eucalyptus forests. More than 2,300 firefighters with more than 700 vehicles battled 13 blazes, with flames driven by powerful winds.

In Italy, where wildfires have raged for weeks, firefighters responded to 26 requests for water and fire retardant air crops on Tuesday throughout central and southern Italy, including Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lazio and Puglia.

The Coldiretti agriculture lobby said 50 million bees were destroyed along with their hives in fires on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Coldiretti said another 20 per cent of the bee population is estimated to have become disoriented by all the smoke and died as a result."

Devastating California Detwiler Fire Can Be Seen From Space

Screenshot - Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R Series via Storyful

Screenshot - Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R Series via Storyful

Satellites have many uses and functions. Did you know they could also aid in firefighting?

From the Source:

"One of the largest recent fires in California has been the Detwiler fire. Since it began on July 16, the blaze has burned across 80,000 acres, destroyed 63 residences, and threatened nearly 1,500 more. Thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes, more than 2,000 firefighters have been deployed, and the fire has also come perilously close to Yosemite National Park."

"The images are not quite like those from a typical camera or what one would see with the naked eye if one were circling the Earth. The special images are instead created by overlaying infrared images onto geocolor, the Earth-like colors produced by the 16 spectral bands aboard the satellite. GOES-R's images are essentially a heat map created using the satellite's different spectral bands to detect the fire's hot spots.

In addition to helping firefighters monitor blazing fires, GOES-R has also been used to monitor other potentially disastrous weather. Earlier this month, the satellite captured images of three tropical storms in the eastern Pacific, tornado cells in Iowa, and a solar eruption."

$5K Reward Still Offered for Info Leading to Arrest, Conviction in Arson Cases

"Officials asked for the public’s help to end a string of suspicious fires in North Kona and South Kohala in 2016." Credit: State Department of Land and Natural Resources

"Officials asked for the public’s help to end a string of suspicious fires in North Kona and South Kohala in 2016." Credit: State Department of Land and Natural Resources

Arson is no laughing matter. The lives and safety of firefighters are put at risk when a fire ignites. Our land and waters take a hit. Our families and homes are put in harm's way. 

From the Source:

“Anytime firefighters go out to unnecessary fires, it takes away from something else they could be doing and eats up funding,” Laura Mallery-Sayre, co-founder of the foundation.

"In March 2016, the foundation and fire department renewed attention to the fund after about a dozen suspicious fires flared up in West Hawaii.

Since Rosario became chief in 2011, he said, there have been no convictions in arson wildfires.

'They’re hard to solve because we really rely on eye-witness statements,' he said."

"The public is encouraged to report any suspicious activity that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the suspected arsonist(s).

Rosario encouraged residents to report vehicles and license plate numbers if seen parked along the highway where it’s not a normal place to park. Throwing something out of the vehicle could also cause an intentional fire.

The chief said arsonists will also take to social media."

From Forest Failure to Restoration Success in 20 Years

"The dark green patches of land are the result of a 20-year dryland forest restoration project on ʻUlupalakua Ranch lands in Auwahi, Maui." Credit - Dr. Art Medeiros

"The dark green patches of land are the result of a 20-year dryland forest restoration project on ʻUlupalakua Ranch lands in Auwahi, Maui." Credit - Dr. Art Medeiros

Collaboration and community volunteers play a crucial role in reviving Hawaii's disappearing native dryland forests, of which there are less than 3% left. We are inspired by all those involved in the Auwahi Forest Restoration Project. Restoring native forests means restoring our watersheds, which reduces wildfire and flood risk. 

From the Source:

“Why should people be concerned about dry forests? They’re identified as one of the world’s biological hotspots just for the number of species that occur there and nowhere else,” says Medeiros,”Culturally it’s really special too. It’s the last stronghold for many Hawaiian trees that were super important to the early Hawaiians.”

“If we lose the plants, to me, we use the colors and the perfumes and even the ability to make things out of the wood.”