Maui (West)

Brushing Up on Wildfire Skills

Credit: Maui News

Credit: Maui News

Prescribed fire can be a great opportunity for firefighters to train for real life wildfire scenarios, while also reducing vegetation hazards prior to peak fire season. Wildfires are inevitable in dry areas, but they don’t have to catch us completely off guard and be as destructive as they have been. As Chief Eric Moller of U.S. Army-Garrison, FES says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of protection.”

From the Source:

Maui Fire Department firefighters learn how to “fight fire with fire” while taking part in an annual wild land refresher training in a former sugar cane field several miles mauka of Puunene Tuesday morning. Assistant Chief Rick Kawasaki explained that during a windblown brush fire a “backfire,” or “burnout,” strategy can be used to widen a firebreak or eliminate combustibles next to structures to rob a raging fire of fuel when it reaches the area. “It’s less labor intensive,” Kawasaki said. “With this type of fuel, it burns so fast, we can’t keep up.” 

Live Wildfire Training on Maui Set Later This Month

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

Attention Maui residents and visitors:

From the Source:

The Maui Fire Department will be conducting wildland firefighting refresher training in the Launiupoko and Central Maui areas April 17 to 19 and 22 to 24 — using live fires.

Residents may see flames or smell smoke in the training areas, said acting Fire Services Chief Jeffrey T. Giesea.

The purpose of the exercises is to provide a hands-on refresher training for firefighting personnel prior to the upcoming brush fire season and to reduce the brush fire hazard in the neighboring communities by burning away fuel and creating a “safety buffer.”

Firefighters will be in a 20-acre plot about 3 miles east of the old Puunene Mill from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 19, 23, 24; and in Launiupoko on a 20-acre plot north of Haniu Street and Punakea Loop along “Lahaina Pump Ditch Two” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 17, 18, 22.

Fire Burns 3 Acres by Kapalua Airport

Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 9.43.31 AM.png

From the Source:

Firefighters extinguished a brush fire that burned about 3 acres near the tree line above Kapalua Airport on Sunday afternoon, a fire official said.

The fire was reported at 3:42 p.m., with Napili and Lahaina fire crews responding along with the Fire Department’s Air One helicopter and a battalion chief.

Restoration of Forest Key to Fire Control, Expert Says

Dr. Trauernicht gives background on the wildfire issue in Maui and across the state. Credit: The Maui News

Dr. Trauernicht gives background on the wildfire issue in Maui and across the state. Credit: The Maui News

Great article on the wildfire issue in Hawaii based on a recent talk by our close partner, Dr. Clay Trauernicht of University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension / Pacific Fire Exchange. Also, important identification of the need for more funding for forest restoration and fire prevention by another close partner of ours, Chris Brosius, program manager of the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership.

From the Source:

The causes of most fires are unknown. Out of 12,000 recorded incidents statewide from 2000 to 2011, only 882, or about 7 percent, had a determined cause. Of those, 72 percent were accidental, which also means they’re preventable, Trauernicht said at Wednesday’s meeting in the Pacific Whale Foundation’s classrooms in Maalaea. That’s why part of the solution is public education on the risks of fire and how to avoid sparking a fire.

That’s why it’s important to find ways to change the landscape to less sensitive and less flammable vegetation, he said. Statewide, non-native grasses and shrubland cover 25 percent of the total land; in Maui County, it’s 36 percent.

“Rather than trying to weed wack or spray to kill the grass, maybe you should think about a more permanent strategy, like planting trees to shade those grasses out,” Trauernicht said. “In other words, converting that vegetation to something that’s less likely to burn.”

“We can really only do two things,” Trauernicht explained. “We can target ignitions . . . and the only thing we have direct control over is the vegetation.”

“A lot of people think about jumping right into fuels management,” he said. “One of the big things is just having access and safer conditions and water for firefighters. So I think some of the more immediate things is ensuring they have the safest conditions.”

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.

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.

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."

Maui Lani Brush Fire Burns ½ Acre

Credit: Maui Fire Department

Credit: Maui Fire Department

From the Source:

Maui firefighters were called to reports of a brush fire located between the Maui Lani Golf Course and Makali’i Street in Kahului at around 10:10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. Engine 10 and Tanker 10 from Kahului responded.

On scene, crews found a working brush fire located about 40 feet behind homes on Makali’i Street and running towards the golf course. Crews were able to access the fire through an access off of Kuihelani Highway and quickly achieved containment.

10 Acre Ukumehame Fire Moves Quickly in Windy Conditions

Credit: Matthew Thayer / The Maui News

Credit: Matthew Thayer / The Maui News

HWMO staff were staying at Olowalu Camp for the vegetative fuels management mapping workshops on Maui. On the way to the camp, a few of our staff witnessed the fire on the way to the camp -- a fitting welcome. Peak fire season is very much here. To find out more about how to share your vegetation management priorities and goals, click here.

From the Source:

Firefighters received a call at 3:05 p.m. of a brush fire in the Ukumehame area, he said. When crews arrived on scene the fire was about 2 acres and moving quickly in strong winds. The fire grew to 10 acres by 5:30 p.m.

Every Second Counts! Home Escape Planning Is Critical in a Fire Situation

MFD fire safety presentation. Credit: Lahaina News

MFD fire safety presentation. Credit: Lahaina News

Important tips on evacuation planning from our friends at Maui Fire Department. You can find more tips and evacuation planning templates in the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide - Hawaii version.

From the Source: 

"Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory," said Jeffrey Murray, fire chief of the Maui Fire Department.

"That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire."

"In support of Fire Prevention Week, all Maui County households are encouraged to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas.

It also includes two ways out of every room - usually a door and a window - with a clear path to an outside meeting place (such as a tree, light pole or mailbox) that's a safe distance from the home."

Wailuku Brush Fire Scorches 4 Acres

Wailuku Brush Fire on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Credit: Ryan Brem / Maui Now

Wailuku Brush Fire on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Credit: Ryan Brem / Maui Now

Time and time again, access is a critical issue for our firefighters in Hawaii. Some access issues are very preventable but will take cooperation and communication from landowners with firefighters. Thankfully, because of firefighting efforts, this fire did not get larger than it could have.

From the Source:

"Crews had trouble getting to the fire because of an abandoned vehicle blocking an old plantation road off of the highway.

Firefighters had to park on Kahekili Highway and ran hoses about 100 yards through the brush to get to the fire."

Another Maui Fire Breaks Out, This Time Near Lahianaluna High School

"Lahainaluna fire, Sept. 18, at about 1 p.m." Credit: Madonna Taganap

"Lahainaluna fire, Sept. 18, at about 1 p.m." Credit: Madonna Taganap

Another day, another fire on Maui this week -- this time in Lahaina near Lahainaluna High School. Have everything you need to be prepared? Check through the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide to make sure you are ready before the next one.

From the Source:

"West Maui fire crews responded to a brush fire near the Lahainaluna High School campus at 12:56 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017,

Multiple callers reported viewing the smoke from the Lahaina bypass.

Lahaina firefighters arrived on scene at 1:12 p.m. and found about an acre of dry grass and brush burning in a vacant lot above the school’s football field."

Maui Brush Fires Along Airport Access Road and Road to "Jaws"

Maui firefighters were kept busy on Sunday with a 3-acre fire along the road to the famous "Jaws" surf break in Peahi and a 300-foot-long strip near Panda Express and Walmart in Kahului. The return of the prevailing trade winds helped fuel the fires, but thanks to our firefighters, they were put out relatively quickly. Fair warning though, when the winds are blowing and the grass and brush is as dry as it is right now, it's a recipe for wildfires.

From the Source:

General location of fire in Peahi. Google Maps

General location of fire in Peahi. Google Maps

General location of fire near Airport Access Road. Google Maps

General location of fire near Airport Access Road. Google Maps

“'It was windy, so it was probably spreading pretty fast by the time they got there,' Taomoto said.

The crew had the fire contained by 2:46 p.m. and extinguished by 2:53 p.m. In total, the fire burned an area about 10 feet wide and 300 feet long.

The fire did not damage any properties or cause any injuries, though crews had to wake up an older male who was sleeping under a tree about 6 feet away from the fire, according to Taomoto."

Teamwork Extinguishes Kaanapali Brush Fire

Map of Kaanapali. Google Maps

Map of Kaanapali. Google Maps

Although the Kaanapali Hillside fire yesterday came close to homes, a collaborative effort amongst firefighters, large landowners, and public works employees made all the difference in protecting homes. 

From the Source:

"A brush fire mauka of Kaanapali Hillside burned 7 acres and came to about 50 feet of the nearest homes before being doused by firefighters Wednesday afternoon, a fire official said."

"Two helicopters and crews from Lahaina, Napili and Wailea and tankers from Lahaina and Kahului, a hazmat unit from Kahului and a battalion chief were called to battle the blaze, Taomoto said. Firefighters received help from Kaanapali Coffee Farms, which provided a bulldozer; West Maui Land Co., which provided a water tanker; and the county Public Works Department, which also provided a tanker."

Fire Scorches Five Acres in Former Wailuku Macadamia Nut Fields

Credit: Anthony Procter / Contributed to Hawaii News Now

Credit: Anthony Procter / Contributed to Hawaii News Now

Agricultural lands that are turning fallow are a major contributor to the increase in wildfire activity across the state, especially on Maui. Access was very limited due to overgrown and narrow dirt roads. Keeping lands active and managed can help firefighters in a number of ways, including having access roads maintained, reducing large areas of flammable vegetation, and having extra fire suppression equipment on the scene.

From the Source:

"According to Maui fire officials, firefighters were dispatched around 1:40 p.m. to an area mauka of Kahekili Highway between Makaala Drive and Waiehu Beach Road.  

Heavy smoke was seen in the area as narrow dirt roads and over-grown brush made it difficult for crews to access the flames.

Once they reached the fire, crews worked into the night to fully extinguish the flames. It was fully extinguished just after 5 p.m., and deemed 100 percent contained just after 11 p.m."

Waiehu Brushfire Off Kahekili Highway

Credit: James Herbstman / Contributor to Maui Now

Credit: James Herbstman / Contributor to Maui Now

Be on the Wildfire Lookout!, Maui.

From the Source:

"Maui firefighters are responding to a report of a brush fire off of the Kahekili Highway in Waiehu.

The fire was first reported at around 2 p.m. on Monday, July 17, 2017.  Initial reports indicate the fire is about 3 acres in size.

A Maui Fire Department helicopter has been dispatched to the scene to conduct water drops from air."

3 Acre Lahaina Brush Fire Sparked By Fireworks

Another testament to why it is so important to teach our keiki about fireworks safety - not only are fireworks an injury risk but when used near dry vegetation, they can be a major fire hazard. We are happy to hear that the keiki were safe from the fire and that one of them took ownership and called in the fire.  

"West Maui fire crews responded to a brush fire reported mauka of Hookahua Street and on the south side of Lahainaluna Road at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 8, 2017."

"No structures were damaged, but flames came to within 40 feet of one home. An
electrical power pole for a 69,000 volt transmission line had been damaged in the fire and was threatening to collapse, hampering firefighter’s efforts to mop up the fire which scorched a total of 3 acres."

"The brush fire was ruled accidental after it was discovered that three 12-year-old boys were playing with fireworks and the strong winds blew it towards dry grass setting it on fire. One of the boys did the right thing and quickly called 911 to report what had happened."

12 Fires, 1 Injury During 4th of July Holiday on Maui

"Maui fireworks injuries. Maui Now graphic. Background image: Rachael Johnson"

"Maui fireworks injuries. Maui Now graphic. Background image: Rachael Johnson"

Maui County firefighters were kept busy on 4th of July. We commend and thank them for their amazing efforts responding to 12 fire incidents, including 5 brushfires, and a fireworks-related injury on what usually is a busy day for them. We wish for a speedy recovery for the girl injured from the fireworks incident.

From the Source:

"There were also five brush fires. One occurred on Ala Ekahi St. in Hoʻolehua, Molokaʻi and was the only brush fire related to fireworks. Fire officials say the incident is believed to have been started by aerial fireworks.

The four other brush fires occurred on Maui, in Kīhei, Kahului, and Puʻunēnē. Three of the fires were smaller than 1,000 square feet and one was around five acres in size. Three had undetermined causes and one was determined to be intentionally set after a witness reported seeing a male individual ignite the brush near the canoe hale on North Kīhei Road, and then flee the scene.

The five acre brush fire occurred at 11:27 p.m., July 4, off of South Firebreak Rd. next to the Hawaiian Cement facility, a mile east of Mokulele Highway. The cause of that fire was undetermined. Two engines and two water tankers from Kahului and Wailea remained on scene to mop-up the area until noon on Wednesday."

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."