Hawaii Island

Community Invited to Celebration of Life for HFD Veteran Killed in Crash

“David Mahon helps his son, Dylan, use a fire hose in this family photo. (Chris Anderson/Special to West Hawaii Today)”

“David Mahon helps his son, Dylan, use a fire hose in this family photo. (Chris Anderson/Special to West Hawaii Today)”

As we mourn the tragic death of Captain David Alan Mahon we also celebrate his life and the many lives he touched. He will be missed.

We hope you can join the public celebration this weekend and help contribute to his memorial fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/dylan039s-future-fundin-loving-memory-of-dave-mahon

From the Source:

A public celebration of life will be held Saturday for veteran Hawaii Fire Department Capt. David Alan Mahon, 49, who was killed last week in a three-car crash on Mamalahoa Highway.

Mahon’s family and friends invite the community to a service that will open at 2 p.m. with a reception at the ballroom Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay.

HFD Battles Brush Fire at Hokulia Golf Course

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From the Source:

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

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

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

Loloa Street Wildfire in North Kona Forces Evacuations

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Fortunately the fire did not do damage or cause any casualties — with the winds blowing from the Kona Low storm, it could have been a lot worse.

From the Source:

Hawaii County Police say a fire is forcing the evacuation of North Kona Sunday.

Evacuation orders were announced shortly after noon.

Police say Loloa Street is closed in Kalaoa as crews respond, and officials suggest that drivers use alternate routes.

Mauna Kea Fire Burning 110+ Acres Caused By Camp Fire

“A brush fire continues to burn off Daniel K. Inouye Highway Wednesday near near the Maunakea Access Road.” (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

“A brush fire continues to burn off Daniel K. Inouye Highway Wednesday near near the Maunakea Access Road.” (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

From the Source:

The fire, which broke out about 10 a.m. Tuesday in the northeastern corner of Pohakuloa Training Area, had burned about 110 acres of state and U.S. Army land as of Wednesday afternoon. It’s burning on the slopes of Mauna Kea, about 2 miles north of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and on the Kona side of Mauna Kea Access Road, said PTA spokesman Mike Donnelly.

“In the last 24 hours, these guys have done a remarkable job containing this fire given the brutal terrain that they’re in,” Donnelly said after observing the fire from a helicopter. The blaze is about 70 percent contained.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

Mauna Loa Brush Fire Doubled in Size Overnight to 1495 Acres

Firefighters battle the brush fire on Monday evening at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Credit: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Firefighters battle the brush fire on Monday evening at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Credit: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

From the Source:

The brush fire that originated at Keauhou Ranch on Hawaii island Sunday morning doubled to 1,495 acres overnight, according to National Park Service officials.

Exacerbated by dry, windy conditions, the fire is now mostly within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and had consumed 1,250 acres of native forest on both sides of Mauna Loa Road by Tuesday morning. The blaze remains uncontained and is now less than a half-mile from the Kipuka Ki Special Ecological Area, which is home to threatened and endangered native plants and animals.

The fire — at the 4,500- to 4,800-foot elevation mark — is moving west towards Kapapala Ranch. No homes or structures are currently threatened, and it poses no threat to the Volcano community at this time.

Weather Officials Predict Increased Brush Fire Activity for Hawaii

Click above to watch the short Star Advertiser video.

Click above to watch the short Star Advertiser video.

Learn how you can prepare by visiting the Wildfire LOOKOUT! page.

From the Source:

Weather officials expect more brush fires in the coming months as Hawaii enters the peak of fire season.

Leeward Oahu has seen below normal rainfall levels this summer with just .02 inches on average in June, compared to the normal of about half an inch — the most recent data available, said Derek Wroe, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

“It’s usually a dry time of the year to begin with, but it’s definitely below normal,” he said.

”We tend to get a lot of growth in the brush … especially across the Leeward portions of the state. There’s a lot more fuel available,” Wroe said. “When you get a combination of these hot and dry conditions with a good amount of fuel that’s ready to burn and then largely we’ve had some fairly strong tradewinds, it creates a situation where you have an elevated fire danger.”

Waikoloa Brush Fire Burned Over 18,000 Acres

Amazing work put in by our firefighters who put it all on the line (literally) to protect important places such as Waikoloa Village and the Waikoloa Dry Forest Preserve. This fire will go down as the 2nd largest in Hawaii's modern history, falling short of the 25,000 acre fire in 2005 that burned to the very edge of Waikoloa Village.

Satellite image of the burn area.

Satellite image of the burn area.

Scorched brush is seen after a brush fire moved through Waikoloa. Credit: Bert Horikawa / Hawaii News Now

Scorched brush is seen after a brush fire moved through Waikoloa. Credit: Bert Horikawa / Hawaii News Now

The Hawaii County firefighters reported significant progress Monday morning in battling the Waikoloa brush fire that has been burning since Wednesday.

HFD said the fire was 95 percent contained. The massive wind-whipped brush fire has already scorched nearly 18,000 acres of land so far.

Authorities also report that what remains of the brush fire is away from public roadways, and no closures are in place. 

Brush Fire in Kau Grows to 700 Acres

NASA FIRMS map  showing the satellite pickup of hotspots from the fire so far. Orange and red signify different satellites. 

NASA FIRMS map showing the satellite pickup of hotspots from the fire so far. Orange and red signify different satellites. 

A brushfire that started Sunday morning on Keauhou Ranch crossed Mauna Loa Road into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and is moving west. National Park Service (NPS) firefighters and the County of Hawaii are working to control the blaze, now estimated to be around 700 acres.

The fire is moving west towards Kapāpala Ranch, and is not contained at this time. County of Hawaii fire personnel are also working to suppress the fire outside the park, which was reportedly sparked during repairs to a bulldozer. Firefighters from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and volunteer firefighters from Volcano also responded.

Strong winds and dry conditions at the fire’s 4,800-foot elevation are making it a challenge to control. No homes or structures are currently at risk, but the fire has scorched native koa forest, which provides important habitat to endangered and endemic species like the Hawaiian hawk and Hawaiian bat.

Waikoloa Brush Fire Continues to Burn, Scorching 3,000 acres

"A large fire is blanketing the air in Waikoloa with heavy smoke." Credit: Hawaii News Now

"A large fire is blanketing the air in Waikoloa with heavy smoke." Credit: Hawaii News Now

We are thinking of you, Waikoloa. Be safe and stay aware of your surroundings. A big mahalo to all of the firefighters from county, state, and federal agencies who are working tirelessly to protect the community!

Should an evacuation occur, which is not expected at this time, CERT members would help notify residents to evacuate by going door-to-door and also with a megaphone. However, relying on your own judgment is critical during a fire. If conditions do not look favorable, whether the spread of the fire or ember showers or smoke...leaving early is the best option. 

Here are some helpful resources for you during the fire, but also use these to plan for the next inevitable fire. Waikoloa is one of the most fire-prone regions in the entire state.

How to protect yourself from smoke inhalation during a fire:

http://www.hawaiiwildfire.org/fire-resource-library-blog/air-oasis-family-fire-guides?rq=smoke

Your all-in-one wildfire preparedness guide:

http://www.hawaiiwildfire.org/fire-resource-library-blog/rsg-your-personal-wildland-fire-action-guide

From the Source:

Hawaii Island firefighters are still working to contain a brush fire that burned at least 3,000 acres in Waikoloa on Wednesday.

"Hawaii County Fire is reporting heavy smoke blowing into Waikoloa Village. We ask people to monitor air conditions and if you have respiratory issues please take necessary precautions," officials said. 

While most of the road blocks have been lifted, Waikoloa Road is still closed between Mamalahoa and Paniolo Avenue.