Heard Around Hawaii

Apply for a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Grant by March 1!

#WildfirePrepDay 2018 at Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove in Hawaii Kai, Oahu. They received a State Farm grant for their vegetation reduction efforts and were able to go the extra mile because of it! Credit: Livable Hawaii Kai Hui

#WildfirePrepDay 2018 at Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove in Hawaii Kai, Oahu. They received a State Farm grant for their vegetation reduction efforts and were able to go the extra mile because of it! Credit: Livable Hawaii Kai Hui

From our partners at NFPA:

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day this year it is May 4, 2019. NFPA® will again be offering project funding awards to 150 communities across the United States. Each of these $500 awards provided with past generous support from State Farm, can be used to complete a wildfire safety project where you live.

The application period for one of one hundred fifty $500 awards opens January 7 at 8 AM EST, and will close March 1 at midnight EST.  Winners will be announced March 22. 

Study Links Climate Change to Increased Risk of Hawaii Wildfires

Credit: Dr. Clay Trauernicht

Credit: Dr. Clay Trauernicht

The need for more wildfire mitigation across Hawaii’s landscapes to protect natural resources and communities will only be greater with climate change. The time is now to take action!

This from our close colleague, a PFX coordinator, and a HWMO technical advisor, Dr. Clay Trauernicht, Wildfire Extension Specialist at University of Hawaii Manoa CTAHR.

From the Source:

The first study linking climate change to an increased probability of wildfires in Hawaiʻi also weighs the increased risks facing tropical regions around the world, according to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher Clay Trauernicht.

Based on changes in rainfall and temperature due to climate change, the annual risk of wildfire could increase up to 375 percent for parts of Hawaiʻi Island, the analysis shows.

Lead researcher Trauernicht, of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, tracked the “footprints” of historical fires on Hawaiʻi Island. His research shows how vegetation, ignition frequency and climate contribute to wildfire probability.

“The increased risk of fire stems from drought conditions due to low rainfall, as well as increased rainfall in the months prior to drought,” Trauernicht said. “This is because wet conditions mean greater growth of non-native grasses, which are the greatest fuel for wildfires in Hawaiʻi. Wet summer weather, combined with dry winter conditions, is characteristic of El Niño conditions and this winter looks likely to be another El Niño.”

Hotel Wailea Luxury Resort Evacuated Due to Fast-Moving Wildfire

Brush fire that forced evacuation of luxury Maui resort is seen in background on January 6, 2019

Brush fire that forced evacuation of luxury Maui resort is seen in background on January 6, 2019

From the Source:

A luxury Maui resort was evacuated Sunday night as a fast-moving brush fire swept through Wailea, CBS Hawaii affiliate KGMB reports.  Guests and employees at Hotel Wailea, a five-star resort, were evacuated at about 8:30 p.m., almost two hours after the wind-whipped blaze started.

Hotel Wailea shut off propane tanks and police were on the property knocking on doors telling people to leave.

The American Red Cross of Hawaii opened an emergency shelter at a local community center to assist affected visitors and residents.

Four Acre Alan Davis Beach Fire in East Oahu Extinguished

“Firefighters working to put out a brush fire on Oahu’s east side.” Credit: Hawaii News Now

“Firefighters working to put out a brush fire on Oahu’s east side.” Credit: Hawaii News Now

The area of the fire is known for remnant native trees and plants that are a vibrant sight to see in Kaiwi. You can volunteer to be a part of the restoration efforts of this remarkable coastline here: http://kaiwicoast.org/volunteer.htm



From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters responded to a brush fire near Alan Davis Beach on Saturday.

Due to muddy off road conditions, crews were unable to access the fire with fire trucks.

“Personnel hiked in and initiated a ground fire attack in coordination with water drops from Air 1,” Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant said in a press release. “The Honolulu Police Department assisted with stopping beach goers from entering the burn area while they hiked to the beach from the lighthouse parking lot.”

Olowalu Mauka Fire Burns Over 75 Acres

Images from the fire on Saturday. Credit: Maui Fire Department

Images from the fire on Saturday. Credit: Maui Fire Department

From the Source:

Maui firefighters are working to extinguish a brush fire that ignited early Saturday morning.

Maui fire officials said they were called out to the fire around 2 a.m. It started in the upper hills of Olowalu above a paintball field and tomato farm.

When MFD arrived on scene, the fire was about two acres in size and growing rapidly due to high winds. Additional resources were called in.

As of 12:15 p.m., the flames were 50 percent contained and 75 acres were blackened. Some 40 firefighters and crew members were still battling the flames.

El Nino Impacts Likely Through Winter, Into Spring - Higher Potential for Large Wildfires in Hawaii

“A Hawaii County firefighter monitors a brush fire.” (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

“A Hawaii County firefighter monitors a brush fire.” (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

El Nino means a higher potential for large fires throughout much of Hawaii. Be prepared by going through the Ready Set Go! Action Guide and WildfireLOOKOUT! materials — there are many ways to get involved and Take Action.

From the Source:

El Nino has more than one impact on water. It doesn’t just heat it up, it changes how much falls from the sky and when.

Matthew Foster, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said NWS has forecast a 90 percent chance of El Nino in the winter and a 60 percent chance it persists into the spring.

According to North Ops Predictive Services, rainfall totals are projected below normal levels from December through the spring months assuming an El Nino takes hold and hangs around.

Because of this, and despite rainfall through last summer and fall that left green grass crop in several areas across the state, large fire potential is expected to increase to above normal levels from January to March.

“December was still neutral conditions,” Foster said, “(But) it would be expected drier than normal over the next few months.”

New Year’s Eve and Day were jointly characterized by three separate blazes in West Hawaii alone, two in the area of Waikoloa Village and one above Hawaiian Homes in Kawaihae.

50 Acre Fire Near Kona Costco Extinguished

Click above for video from KHON2

Click above for video from KHON2

From the Source:

A fast-moving brush fire in Kona scorched about 50 acres before firefighters were able to get it under control on Friday afternoon.

The blaze started about 3 p.m. near Hinalani Street and Ane Keohokalole Highway.

The Ulu Wini housing complex and several businesses, including Costco, are close to where the blaze and so an emergency shelter was opened for any displaced residents.

Lahainaluna High School Post-Fire Recovery (VIDEO)

Screenshot from the Lahainaluna Digital Media video.

Screenshot from the Lahainaluna Digital Media video.

Lahaina’s community came out in droves to help Lahainaluna High School recover from the August brushfire during Hurricane Lane. This video from Lahianaluna Digital Media will brighten your day by showing you what a community-wide resilient spirit looks like.

Mauna Loa Road Closed To Cars Due To Very High Fire Danger

On December 13, volunteers remove koali ʻawa from Kīpukapuaulu (NSP Photo/Janice Wei)

On December 13, volunteers remove koali ʻawa from Kīpukapuaulu (NSP Photo/Janice Wei)

From the Source:

The gate near Kīpukapuaulu parking area has been closed, as Mauna Loa Road has been declared off limits to motorized vehicles until further notice, due to a very high fire danger.

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park officials on Monday said non-motorized day use such as hiking and bicycling will be permitted, and backcountry camping on Mauna Loa is still allowed with a permit.

Open fires, including charcoal cooking fires, are prohibited at the Kīpukapuaulu picnic area, and Kilauea Military Camp. Propane or gas cooking stoves are permitted, park officials say.

“The strong winds and dry weather over the past week has led to a rapid escalation of fire danger on Mauna Loa, and fire danger indexes have reached critical thresholds at the Mauna Loa weather station,” said Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk.

The Naional Park Service says “hot components on motor vehicles have historically contributed to the increased risk of fire. By reducing the number of vehicles in high-risk areas, the park can mitigate the potential for a catastrophic event.”

Over the summer, a 3,739-acre wildfire on Mauna Loa threatened values park resources like the Kīpukakī and Kīpukapuaulu Special Ecological Areas, cultural heritage areas and rare forest habitat for endangered species. A coordinated effort managed to contain the blaze.

Firefighters Extinguish Fire Near Makai Research Pier

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 8.30.00 AM.png

From the Source:

Firefighters put out a small fire this afternoon at the site of an occasional homeless camp on the ocean side of Kalanianaole Highway near Makai Research Pier.

Capt. Scot Seguirant of the Honolulu Fire Department said the alarm sounded at 12:39 p.m., a fire truck arrived at 12:46 p.m. and the blaze was extinguished by 1:04 p.m. It covered about 12 feet by 12 feet of land, he said.

“It was on the ocean side of the road, right after the pier and before the homes,” he said. “There’s like a now-and-then homeless camp in that area. That’s what actually burned. The brush didn’t really catch at all.”

Firefighters Extinguish Brush Fire on Diamond Head Near the Main Lookout

Firefighters doused a brush fire on Diamond Head. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

Firefighters doused a brush fire on Diamond Head. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

From the Source:

Firefighters have extinguished a blaze that scorched around one acre of brush on Diamond Head on Tuesday.

The fire started around noon near homeless camps above the main lookout.

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.