Hawaii Island: Kona/South Kona

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.

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.

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.

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.

Officer Bidal and Firefighter/EMT Willey are Honored by Aloha Exchange Club

Officer Conrad Bidal (L) Firefighter/EMT Kainoa Willey (R). Credit: Hawaii 24/7

Officer Conrad Bidal (L) Firefighter/EMT Kainoa Willey (R). Credit: Hawaii 24/7

Kainoa is also an amazing musician - he and our project assistant, Tom Loomis, played hours of sweet tunes for our Denny's Fundraiser in 2015! Congratulations Firefighter Willey and Officer Bidal from all of us at Hawaii Wildfire.

From the Source:

Firefighter Willey is honored for his outstanding work as a Firefighter/EMT in West Hawaiʻi, but what sets him apart is his initiative in volunteering for several community projects sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Fire Department including spearheading numerous fundraising efforts for Fire Department Personnel in need of financial assistance due to illness, injury, or traumatic events.

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."

$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."

Three Fires Near Upper Road Suspected Arson

Highway 190 Fire in March 2016. Credit: Bret Yager / West Hawaii Today

Highway 190 Fire in March 2016. Credit: Bret Yager / West Hawaii Today

Arson is a serious crime. Call HPD at 935-3311 if you have information on these fires.

From the Source:

"Three brush fires ignited on Highway 190 over the weekend appear to be connected, officials confirmed Monday afternoon. 

The cluster of blazes occurred on Saturday and Sunday just outside Kailua-Kona. The first was discovered at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at about mile marker 29 on Mamalahoa Highway, or upper road. The second was hours later at 7:45 p.m. a half mile up the road.

The third fire was spotted Sunday at 1:35 p.m. at mile marker 30."

"The Hawaii Fire Department battled a rash of arson fires in the same area early last year, said Battalion Chief Darwin Okinaka."

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness in Kona Kicks Off Wildfire Season

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Credit: Hawaii DLNR

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Credit: Hawaii DLNR

We are excited to say that not only was HWMO's Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness a success on May 6, but it also received statewide media attention. One of the highlights of the event was the official launch of Wildfire Lookout!, a multi-partner coordinated statewide wildfire prevention and preparedness campaign. Mahalo to KHON2, KITV, and Big Island Video News for coverage of the event, and a very special mahalo to Department of Land and Natural Resources for documenting the day's proceedings and sharing with the media.

From the Sources:

"'In the end, all of us are impacted by wildfire. It’s just that some of those impacts are more invisible than others, so people aren’t quite as aware,' Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said.

Pickett says over 25-percent of the state has been invaded by non-native, fire-prone grasses and shrubs.

That percentage grows as fires consume native forests which are then taken over by those invasive species." - KHON2

"The importance of land and homeowners to be fire ready is the theme of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day events and activities across the country today. At the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area on Hawai‘i Island’s west side, Elizabeth Pickett watched as several non-profit organizations set up booths and exhibits for the first-ever Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Pickett is the executive director of the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), which with DLNR, and two dozen other State and federal government organizations and various non-profits are supporting the second year of a public and media awareness campaign: Wildfire LOOKOUT!

Pickett explained to people who dropped by the HWMO booth, that just because they may never have personally experienced a wildfire close to their home or property, that doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted. She explained, “Especially in our island environment the negative impacts of a wildfire in a specific location usually has detrimental impacts many miles away that can persist for years and even decades. You often hear people refer to 'mauka to makai,' and that effect pertains to wildfire. Once land is stripped of trees and vegetation it becomes much more prone to erosion and the introduction of invasive species and soot and sediment can wash from mountain forests to the sea where it can choke out life in coral reefs.'

Big Island State Representative Cindy Evans emphasized the need for everyone in Hawai‘i to become aware of these impacts and to do their part to prevent wildland fires. She’s seen first- hand the devastation and destruction, these often fast moving fires cause. Evans said, 'Even the loss of one home is one too many when you consider that with a little awareness, people truly can prevent wildland fires.'" - Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (picked up by Big Island Video News)

10 Acre Brush Fire in Kona Shuts Down Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Henry Street

Credit: Luahiwa Lee Loy Namahoe / KHON2

With the entire Big Island currently in abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions, a busy spring and summer may lie ahead for our firefighters. Lighten your landscaping through the recommendations made in the ReadySetGo! Wildland Fire Action Guide this spring and make sure to take action this Wildfire Preparedness Day, May 6! You can enter our statewide contest by posting your photos to social media with #wildfirereadyhawaii or by submitting your photos to admin@hawaiiwildfire.org.

From the Source:

"A fire across 10 acres of brush makai of Queen Kaahumanu Highway shut down southbound lanes on that road and a stretch of Henry Street for part of Thursday afternoon.

No injuries or structural damage was reported as a result of the blaze, said West Hawaii Battalion Chief Brian Cushnie."

Firefighters Call Brush Fires Along Route 190 'Suspicious in Nature'

KHON2 Video Screen Shot

Firefighters have been hard at work all week in South Kohala. Multiple suspicious brushfires have threatened forest preserves this week, but thankfully, our amazing firefighters have been able to keep the fires contained rather quickly even with gusty winds. 

Please alert HPD of any suspicious activity. Mahalo!

From the Source:

"The Hawaii Fire Department is investigating what sparked two brush fires that briefly closed part of Route 190 Thursday afternoon."

“Route 190 was previously shut down from Kaiminani Drive to Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Waikoloa Village Road. Viewer video shows flames coming dangerously close to the roadway.”

Watch Out for Wildfires

Currently there are several updates to Community Wildfire Protection Plans in the works, as well as new plans being developed.

Mahalo to The Garden Island for the nice feature on the wildfire situation in Kauai and the Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) that HWMO has been working.

From the Source:

“Don’t be fooled by the rain we might get and think we’re off the hook,” said Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a nonprofit that’s dedicated to spreading wildfire education. “Rain makes more vegetation grow, that dries out and then there’s more fuel for wildfire.”

Pablo Beimler, HWMO coordinator, said with the extensive drought period the state experienced earlier this year, and the EL Nino phenomenon that’s in effect “could spell trouble in the number of ignitions and the sizes.”

In preparation for that dry summer, HWMO has been working on six Community Wildfire Protection Plans, which outline the wildfire hazard sand issues each specific community faces, the organizations and entitles that have a stake in wildfire management, and how they can work together to minimize the number and sizes of wildfires this season.

Fire Scorches Vacant Land Near Hualalai Elderly Housing

Credit - West Hawaii Today

Credit - West Hawaii Today

Wildfire solutions are not always easy to find. One of the more complex issues are campfire starts from homeless, a common occurrence in Kailua-Kona. What's important is that to find solutions, we need to ensure that these complex issues are addressed with all stakeholders at the table. Collaboration is the only way to get to the heart of wicked problems like these.

Mahalo to firefighters for keeping Kona residents safe!

From the Source:

"Capt. Gifford Matsuoka said a southwest wind helped to keep the fire from spreading into more vacant land to the south and blew the brunt of the smoke away from the housing complex.

That wasn’t the case in 2012, when smoke from a similar fire forced the evacuation of the complex. Smaller fires have occurred sporadically in the area since then.

'Round three. This is the third time since I’ve been here,' said resident Larry Johnson, watching the scene unfold to the west.

Residents were quick to blame the fire on the homeless camping on the vacant land. Firefighters said the cause hasn’t been determined but listed homeless campfires as a possible cause."

South Kohala Brush Fires Close Highway 190

"Parker Ranch Firefighters douse hotspots on a brush fire makai of Hwy 190 on Sunday afternoon. (Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today)"

A string of arson fires caused another headache for firefighters and motorists on Sunday, April 10th. Please report any suspicious activity to the police. 

From the Source:

"Firefighters were busy battling three brush fires on Sunday.

Highway 190, between Waikoloa Road and mile marker 6, was closed for about five hours as three separate fires. One of the fires, located near mile marker 8, was consumed about 10 acres on the makai side of the highway while the other two fires were kept small."

West Hawaii Fire Still Burning, Highway 190 Remains Closed

Initial hours of the now 2,500 acre wildfire. Photo credit: Rachel Riley.

Due to a 2,500-acre fire apparently caused by a lightning strike that is still blazing near Puuwaawaa, Highway 190 remains closed between Makalei Street and Daniel K. Inouye Highway junction. Please follow any advisories and directions from emergency responders when on the road. Waikoloa Road and Kaiminani Drive are the current detour routes.

From the Source:

"According to the Department of Land and Natural Resoures’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the fire has burned an estimated 2,000-2,500 acres, as of early this morning. The number is a big increase from the previous night, when the Hawai’i County Fire Department said that the brush fire burned 1,300 acres."

"As the fire has gotten closer to the road, it has allowed ground crews to assist in putting out the blaze. Initially, the fire moved toward the ocean, limiting fire operations to helicopter water drops. When the wind switched directions, it blew the blaze back towards the road, easing access."

25-Acre Blaze Ignites Near Kailua-Kona Neighborhood

"A Hawaii County helicopter performs a water drop on a brush fire that threatened homes in the Komohana Kai subdivision of Kailua-Kona on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Denny Miller/Special to West Hawaii Today)"

We hope all are okay after an incredibly close-call in the Komohana Kai subdivision. Just the intensity of the smoke near homes was enough to cause some residents to evacuate. Mahalo to firefighters for their quick response and to community members who cooperated with evacuation procedures and helped make suppression efforts easier for firefighters. 

From the Source:

"The southern edge of Kailua-Kona was draped in large black clouds of smoke Wednesday afternoon as a brush fire consumed an open area near the Komohana Kai subdivision, causing people to evacuate their homes voluntarily and at least one government office to close for the day.

The fire started about noon in the vicinity of Banyan Apartments on Alii Drive and quickly raced mauka through dry brush toward the subdivision, which is located on the bottom portion of Lako Street."

"Firefighters were assisted by residents, who helped realign hoses, mark out areas and provide lifts on mopeds.

Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief Gantry Andrade said the brush fire makai of Lako and Kololia streets was close to being under control by Wednesday afternoon. The fire was slowly spreading, however, most of the active burning was within the burn area. Bulldozers were close to cutting the final parts of the firebreak to control the blaze, he said."

Three More Fires Reported In West Hawaii - Police Increase Patrols

Report any suspicious activity relating to recent fires by calling 935-3311. Credit - Hawaii DLNR/special to West Hawaii Today

If you have any information that may help with the investigation of this unfortunate string of events, please do not hesitate to contact the Hawaii Police Department at 935-3311. Every little bit of evidence helps. Mahalo for your kokua.

From the Source:

"Two of the small fires were located in the North Kona District and the third burned in South Kohala, according to Kona Fire Prevention Bureau Capt. Kazuo Todd, who oversees two fire investigators in Kona. That brings the total number of fires that have ignited in the two districts to eight over an eight-day period between Feb. 11 and Thursday. That number includes two fires that combined with others into three fires on the day the string of fires began."

"'We just want the person involved to know that the community is working together, keeping their eyes open and we just ask you to behave yourself,' he said. 'If not, eventually, you will get caught and be held accountable.'

Though the department is always ready to respond to any additional reports, doing so is putting some strain on services in the area, the chief said.

'What that does is take away resources from responding to other calls,' he said. 'We always respond to every call that comes in, but when units are out of their district fighting a brush fire that was intentionally set, it does delay our response to other calls.'

All told, the fires have charred approximately 1,146 acres of mostly brush; however, state officials have said some native trees were lost. The fires have started primarily in the vicinity of Highway 190 between Kailua-Kona and Waimea."

Firefighters Battle 'Suspicious' Fires in South Kohala, North Kona

Great to see amazing cooperation among our first response agencies who are putting their lives at stake to control a number of simultaneous wildfires in the Puu Anahulu area. Mahalo for all of their hard work and dedication!

Please report any suspicious activity to 911. Also please follow roadblock instructions from HPD personnel. Mahalo for your kokua and stay safe.

"Several fires broke out above Highway 190 near mile markers 17 and 18 and its intersection with the Daniel K. Inouye Highway Thursday. (Rick Winters/West Hawaii Today)"

From the Source:

"Firefighters continued to battle multiple “suspicious” brush fires in South Kohala and North Kona that had consumed more than 300 acres as of Thursday evening.

Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief Gantry Andrade told West Hawaii Today that officials considered the fires “suspicious.” All of the fires were reported shortly before 4 p.m. in dry brush and fountain grass near major roadways in the vicinity of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

“It’s unlikely multiple fires would start in multiple locations at the same time,” he said. Hawaii Fire Department investigators were on the scene and looking into the cause of the blaze as of press time."

"Luckily, wind conditions were in firefighters’ favor throughout the afternoon and evening with mild winds blowing out of the northeast that allowed crews to keep the fire from growing larger, he said.

An array of firefighters remained at the scenes of the fires as of press time, including state, county, volunteer and federal assets. During daylight hours, the firefighters were assisted by two Hawaii County helicopters performing water drops."