Kauai fire crews handle brush fire that forced evacuations in Poipu

There were evacuations in Poipu yesterday afternoon due to a brushfire sparked at 3:45 pm.

From the source:

At one point, dozens of firefighters and three helicopters were working to extinguish the fire. Strong winds pushed the flames toward Koloa, though no structures were immediately threatened. With the dry brush and steady trade winds, it was enough to make residents uneasy.

“The houses down below us will be the biggest concern because a couple of years ago, a couple of houses burned from a brush fire in the same exact area coming through,” resident Aaron Hoff said.

The evacuation order for residents along Kipuka Street has since been lifted and an emergency shelter at the Koloa Neighborhood Center was set to have closed at about 9:30 p.m.  Poipu Road also reopened opened shortly after. So far there are no reports of injuries. No estimation on how many acres have burned so far.

Drought Kicks In - Wildfires Already on Kauai

Waimea Canyon Fire, 2017. Credit: The Garden Island / Mark Stainaker

Waimea Canyon Fire, 2017. Credit: The Garden Island / Mark Stainaker

Drought conditions are kicking in across the Hawaiian Islands, including on Kauai, where multiple brushfires have already burned. 75% of wildfires in Hawaii occur when the drought monitor is lit up. Now is the time to be ready using your Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide and Wildfire LOOKOUT! tools.

From the Source:

While recovery from April 2018 floods continues on the North Shore, the Westside is looking at severe drought conditions through September.

“We’re already seeing agriculture impacts, especially for the ranchers and we’re expecting a more active brushfire season,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrologist, Kevin Kodama in a Wednesday press conference.

Kokee Road Fires Under Investigation

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From the Source:

Firefighters responded to multiple brush fires that broke out along Koke‘e Road throughout the day Sunday, starting in the early morning hours and ending in the evening.

There were no reports of injuries or structural damage related to the fires.

Roughly 50 acres were burned before the blaze could be contained by emergency crews around 5:20 p.m. Fire crews ran out of water in their engines throughout the course of the day fighting the fire and were forced to reload on several occasions.

Anyone with information is urged to call the KPD at 241-1711.

Firefighters Extinguished 4 Brush Fires in Kekaha

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From the Source:

Firefighters extinguished four brush fires in Kekaha, in an area about 25 feet by 400 feet, near the vicinity of Kikiaola Harbor in Kekaha on Sunday.

Firefighters from the Waimea and Hanapepe fire stations responded to the brush fires that were reported at 2:40 p.m.

Hanapepe fire station responded to assist with two brush fires closer to the harbor entrance. 

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.

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.

Kauai Firefighters Respond to 4 Back-to-Back Brush Fires

Kauai firefighters from the Waimea station responding to wildfires on Wednesday. Credit: Brian Howell / Flickr

Kauai firefighters from the Waimea station responding to wildfires on Wednesday. Credit: Brian Howell / Flickr

Kauai firefighters responded to four separate fires across the Garden Isle on Wednesday.

The causes for all four fires remain under investigation, and anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Kauai Police Department at 808-241-1711.

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.”

Family Behind Hawaiian Fire-Throwing Ritual Apologizes for Brush Fire

Makana Fire. Photo Credit: Richard Berry / KFVE

Makana Fire. Photo Credit: Richard Berry / KFVE

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

From the Source:

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: DLNR

Credit: DLNR

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

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

From the Source:

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

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

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

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

Brush Fire in Poipu Burns 215 Acres, Destroys Heavy Machinery

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

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

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

From the Source:

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

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

Kauai Firefighters Put in Over 400 Hours of Training a Year

Credit: Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

Credit: Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

Everyday, we must count our blessings for having not only brave, but very skilled firefighters on our islands. Kauai Fire Department firefighters alone log over 400 hours of training each year, training that spans everything from "first responder training and fire operations to extraction, rope rescue, swift water rescue and hazmat."

From the Source:

“The skill set is great, and we don’t always use them,” he said. “We say the skills are perishable — if you don’t use it, they tend to fade on you. But again, it’s muscle memory and practice. Not just the formal practicing of coming to a workshop, but practicing in the field.”

"A lot of the scenarios firefighters train for are low frequency, high risk — meaning they don’t happen a lot, but when they do, it can have a dramatic effect on those involved, Vaughan said."

Brush Fire Scorches 30 Acres on Kauai's East Side

30-acre brushfire near homes in Anahola. Credit: Kauai Fire Department

30-acre brushfire near homes in Anahola. Credit: Kauai Fire Department

This is a prime example of why illegal waste dumping poses hazards to our lands, communities and firefighters. 

From the Source:

"A brush fire on Kauai scorched 30 acres of land near Pilipoli Road late Monday."

"By 6:30 p.m., firefighters had control of the flames, but a pile of waste kept the flames from being fully extinguished. The pile consisted of abandoned vehicles, tires and other objects. It was removed by a bull-dozing crew sent by the Department of Public Works."

Waimea Canyon Fire Largest of Three

Credit: Mark Stainaker / The Garden Island

Credit: Mark Stainaker / The Garden Island

Kauai may have been blessed with rains of late, but that also means further growth of unmanaged flammable vegetation. Waimea Canyon, no stranger to large wildfire incidents, makes for difficult firefighting conditions. We thank first responders for their hard work on these challenging fires.

From the Source:

"State and county firefighting crews continue to battle a brush fire that is burning at the western edge of Waimea Canyon Tuesday. The fire is one of three that scorched over 60 acres of brush since yesterday.

About 30 DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildfire personal, along with the Kauai Fire Department, are establishing a control area between the 800- to 1,500-foot elevation of the mountain, amid grassland and haole koa shrubs. No homes or structures are threatened."

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.

How to Enjoy Fourth of July Fireworks and Firecrackers

Credit: HWMO

Here is some important County-by-County information on July 4th Weekend fireworks permitting and public shows. Fireworks are a common cause of brushfires in dry, grassy areas - attend and enjoy public fireworks displays to maximize safety and fire protection.

From the Source: 

  • "Fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burns and eye injuries.
  • Young children and fireworks do not mix. Never give fireworks, even sparklers to young children. Sparklers burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Older children should only use fireworks under the direct supervision of an adult.
  • Always read and follow all warnings and instructions listed by the manufacturer for the safe use and handling of fireworks.
  • Make sure you have a clear, flat area to use the fireworks; away from structures, dry grass or brush, or other readily ignitable materials.
  • Have a water hose or bucket of water readily available in case of a fire."

Organizations Kick Off Wildfire and Drought Look Out! Campaign

Credit - Molly Solomon/HPR

HWMO and its partners statewide worked together to launch Wildfire & Drought Look Out!, Hawaii's first coordinated statewide wildfire outreach campaign. Here are a number of news clippings from TV, radio, and newspaper sources and the links to each source.



“‘I have been preparing for it for years now,’ said Momoa. ‘Ever since I moved in there, I could see the vision that it was going to burn soon.’”

Big Island Now:

“‘We have set up both a public and a media page on the HWMO website. The public page will have loads of information for home and property owners on how best to prepare for the possibility of wildfire well in advance,’ said HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett. ‘We’ll include water saving information which is really topical during this prolonged drought event in many areas across the state, largely caused by El Nino weather conditions.’

HWMO will also maintain and manage a media page, where partners can contribute story ideas and leads for reporters and their news organizations.”

Maui News:

“Prevention suggestions include:

* Clearing combustible materials near homes and lanais.

* Keeping grass short and tree branches off of the ground.

* Creating a defensible space at least 100 feet around a home.

* Removing leaves and debris from gutters and roofs.

* Covering eaves and vents with -inch mesh.

* Creating and practicing a family evacuation plan.”


“With an above-average fire season ahead, state officials stress a need for public awareness. Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization is a nonprofit that’s working with federal, state and local agencies to kick start a campaign to provide information and tips for homeowners. More information can be found on their website, hawaiiwildfire.org.”

Honolulu Civil Beat:

More than 60 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions, and parts of the Big Island are facing extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Credit - Clay Trauernicht

“We hope this campaign, which has both a public and a media component, will educate and inform everyone living in and visiting Hawaii about the year-around threat of wildfires,” DLNR Director Suzanne Case said in a release.

Hookele News:

“The campaign seeks to educate homeowners and communities and empower them to take proactive steps that reduce the chances of wildfire ignition and create safer conditions for our firefighters.”


Hawaii Faces Increased Wildfire Risk This Summer

Nationally, Hawaii is on the map this year (along with Alaska and the Southwest) as being an area of "increased danger for significant wildland fires from May through August" according to a new report from the National Interagency Fire Center.

Our partners Clay Trauernicht, from University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension, and Captain David Jenkins, from Honolulu Fire Department, do a great job in this Hawaii News Now report to explain the current drought and wildfire situation and what that means for Hawaii visitors and residents.  Stay tuned for the statewide wildfire prevention and preparedness campaign set to launch real soon!

From the Source:

'We've sort of been tracking the progression of the drought, so we're pretty well aware that we're facing an above-average fire season for the summer,' said Clay Trauernicht, a wildfire specialist with the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension.

'We're seeing reports of El Nino subsiding, but what that means for us is, it's sort of leading us right into our summertime dry season. So even though it's going to look like a normal summer, we have this big rainfall deficit from the wintertime,' Trauernicht said.

Several agencies are working together and will soon be launching a new wildfire prevention and preparedness campaign to help keep communities safe.

'There's a lot of things you can do both to prevent fires from starting, as well as reducing fire risks around your homes,' Trauernicht said."

Wildland Fire Meeting on Kauai

Mauna Kea Fire Field Tour on second day of 2014 CNH Conference. Credit: HWMO

HWMO will be one of the speakers at this year's California, Nevada, and Hawaii WIldland Fire Conference in Kauai. Stay tuned to our HWMO Blog for a recap on the event!

From the Source:

"The event is geared for firefighting agencies at all levels of government to promote professional wildland fire management practices that protect lives and property, and enhance natural resource values.

Among the topics of discussion will be presentations by representatives of: the National Weather Service on the El Nino season and effects on fire conditions in Hawaii, Pacific Fire Exchange on challenges to rapid wildfire containment in Hawaii, and the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization."

Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization Supports Formation of Firewise Communities in Hawaii

"According to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, about 0.5% of Hawaii’s total land area burns annually, as much or more than the proportion of land are burned in any other US state. In Hawaii, 98% of wildfires are human caused."

We are extremely grateful to be a part of the Firewise Communities program and were highlighted for our efforts in January's National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Fire Break newsletter!

From the Source:

"Wildfire in Hawaii, like anywhere else, threatens the safety of firefighters, residents andhomes. It also causes damage to the air quality, which impacts human health, and contributes to soil erosion problems that can cause damage to sensitive coral reefs. One of the partners in Hawaii working to help lessen the loss due to wildfire in Hawaii is the Hawaiian Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO). They are a small nonprofit organization that has been working together with fire departments, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, communities and others to help develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) and Firewise Communities. The HWMO was officially founded in 2000 by a group of South Kohala/North Kona regional experts who wanted to create a non-profit organization to serve as an arm for the fire suppression and land management agencies to conduct prevention, pre-suppression, and post-fire work. They became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2002. Since then, they have grown to not only address wildfire issues for all of Hawaii Island, but also the entire state and some of the Western Pacific (namely Yap, Palau, Guam).

According to Pablo Beimler, Coordinator with HWMO, "'Although we have a small staff, HWMO is continually able to accomplish a number of projects due to its extensive partnerships. We can't say it enough: by staying in communication with our partners on each project, and expanding partnerships where needed, they are able to ensure our projects stay grounded and effective.'"

"Pablo described other wildfire preparedness projects in which HWMO is involved. "We have a Firewise demonstration garden in Waikoloa Village, where we have a number of native, drought-tolerant plants growing strategically around a demo home to give community members an example of good defensible space practices. Our team has held a number of community events at the garden and have had a youth environmental empowerment group called the Malama Kai Ocean Warriors help be the ‘stewards’ of the garden. In terms of other youth outreach, we also go to numerous schools and youth programs to teach students about wildfire prevention and preparedness, including Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! principles. We also hold community wildfire preparedness workshops for various organizations/groups or for the general public where we give people a run-down on Firewise and Ready, Set, Go!."