Maui: Kahikinui

20 Acre Fire Near Auwahi Windfarm on Maui

The fire occurred in the vicinity of the Auwahi Wind Farm located in leeward Haleakala.

The fire occurred in the vicinity of the Auwahi Wind Farm located in leeward Haleakala.

We are glad all are okay at Auwahi Wind. They have been a great partner in Kahikinui's Firewise Community efforts. Recently, they contributed $10,000 to the Hawaiian homestead community for a new community entrance and fuels reduction.

From the Source:

The Piʻilani Highway (Hwy 31) at Mile Marker 20 in ʻUlupalakua is now OPEN.  The road was temporarily closed in both directions for about an hour and a half while crews responded to a brush fire in the area of the Auwahi Wind Farm.

From Forest Failure to Restoration Success in 20 Years

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

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

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

From the Source:

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

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

Advancing FAC in Hawaii: Increasing Awareness, Thinking Both Short and Long Term and...Goats?

Click to Read the Blog Post

Click to Read the Blog Post

In 2015, we began working with several communities statewide on grassroots-level community wildfire protection efforts, primarily through Firewise’s communities recognition program. Only a few years later, we’re happy to say that our communities are seeing some great success! Find out how HWMO and its partners are working with communities to advance Fire Adapted Community goals in the latest highlight on the FAC Learning Network blog.

From the Source:

"These recommendations have already encouraged Firewise committees to start thinking outside of the box. For example, two years ago, Waikoloa Village received a fuels reduction grant from the USDA Forest Service. The village used the funds to hire a goat-grazing contractor to reduce flammable vegetation on vacant lots. As phase two of the project, the community will be installing permanent fence posts to allow for more regular grazing. Eventually, they may transform these lots into a multi-use area where goats continue to graze and the community also grows citrus trees.

These communities are also engaging residents through outreach. A few months ago, the Launiupoko Firewise committee sent over 300 copies of ReadySetGo! Wildland Fire Action Guides to residents. This spring, they will be hiring a contractor to remove flammable vegetation along an established bike path. Kahikinui, a small homestead in one of the most remote areas on Maui, worked tirelessly last year to engage neighboring large landowners and various agencies in their Firewise efforts. Their persistence and creativity led to a collaborative fuels mitigation project that received funding from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and a local wind farm."

'Good Neighbors' Help to Fight Fires in Remote Kahikinui Homestead

Excellent, in-depth article of the recent PFX Field Tour of Kahikinui, the community's history and past struggles with large wildfires, and the bright future ahead of them for their preparedness efforts. Mahalo to the Maui News for the great coverage and to Leeward Haleakala Watershed Partnership and Pacific Fire Exchange for coordinating the field tour.

From the Source:

"There have been some smaller meetings with the community and adjacent landowners in the past, but this was the first time so many people with such a broad range of experience and interest in collaboration came together that I'm aware of," said Andrea Buckman, coordinator for the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, who organized the event along with the Pacific Fire Exchange.

Kahikinui resident Ainoa Kaiaokamalie and others joined Pacific Fire Exchange, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and a variety of other stakeholders for the field tour. Photo Credit: The Maui News

Kahikinui resident Ainoa Kaiaokamalie and others joined Pacific Fire Exchange, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and a variety of other stakeholders for the field tour. Photo Credit: The Maui News

"In the meantime, grant funding is also an option for the community. One available program is the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface grant, which provides funding for projects related to fire education, planning and prevention. Through this grant, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization already has $5,000 for a fuel reduction project in Kahikinui that must be matched by cash or volunteer hours."

"Currently, Kahikinui is working to become a certified Firewise Community through the help of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Pablo Beimler, the organization's community outreach coordinator, said that he expects Kahikinui to receive its certification by the end of the year. Being certified would help push Kahikinui higher on grant funding lists and could reduce insurance costs in the future, he said.

Trauernicht said that the prevention projects being considering 'are always cheaper in the long run' when compared to the costs of restoring forests, livestock fuel and homes."

Kahikinui Brush Fire Flare Up Burns Toward Dense Forest

Kahikinui fire as of February 18, 2016. Credit - Ryan Piros

Even after a large wildfire is extinguished, there are always chances for flare-ups. Remember the fire triangle? A little oxygen can restart an unnoticed hot spot and resurrect a wildfire. The "Set" portion of "Ready, Set, Go!" means "stay vigilant of your surroundings." 

From the Source:

"Crews arrived to find 3 to 4 acres burning near the mauka perimeter, about 1.5 miles from the nearest structure, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto."

"When darkness fell, officials say the fire was still active, and was creeping slowly upslope. According to department reports, the fire grew to 7 to 10 acres and was moving into denser forested areas overnight."

Huge Community Effort to Battle Kahikinui Brush Fire

Photo Credit: County of Maui/Ryan Piros

When a community comes together during an emergency, the safety of firefighters and residents is vastly improved. Case and point, the efforts of community members during the 5,300 acre wildfire that threatened homes in Kahikinui, Maui, made suppression efforts much easier for first responders. The fire was an intense one, not only for residents in Kahikinui, but for those in Kihei, too. The smoke was thick as it smothered parts of Kihei, reported Pablo Beimler, who was in Kihei for HWMO work. Unfortunately, HWMO had to cancel a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment with Kula Hawaiian Homelands due to the wildfire, but thankfully no homes or lives were lost in what could have been a catastrophic fire.

From the Source:

Map of Kahikinui Fire. Credit: Maui County GIS

"Before first responders were able to close the roads Monday evening, good Samaritans like Joe Santos sprung into action. "I took my truck and I blocked the road because I was trying to stop anybody from driving into the fire," said Santos, operations manager for Kaupo Ranch."

Shortly after, Maui firefighters were in full force fighting the blaze. Various public and private entities also helped supplying manpower and bulldozers.

The efforts helped save all the homes in the Kahikinui Homesteads.

'The fire got close to the homestead side, a little more on the Ulupalakua area, that's where it was really intense trying to save the houses. The trade winds were bringing the fire close to the homes and that's where the stress level got a little bit crazy,' said Santos.

Taomoto said the Maui Fire Department expresses its gratitude to everyone who helped and continues to help fight the fire."