arson

Police Identify Suspect Arrested in Connection with Maili Wildfires in West Oahu

Footage from Senator Maile Shimabukuro broadcasted on Hawaii News Now.

Footage from Senator Maile Shimabukuro broadcasted on Hawaii News Now.

Although 75% of wildfires are deemed accidental and thus easily preventable in Hawaii, according to researcher Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension, we also have a challenging arson issue. It’s rare for authorities to catch arsonists and even more difficult to prosecute arsonists. In this Maili fire, a suspect was found at the scene of one of four wildfires along Farrington Highway in Maili. Thankfully no one was hurt and no homes were lost, but an investigation is underway.

From the Source:

The dramatic afternoon has Senator Shimabukuro renewing her push for a million dollars in grant money to help fight West Oahu wildfires.

“Fires have been terrorizing our community my whole life," she said. “Every summer, our mountains are on fire. I really hope that this million dollars that the community is requesting for the Waianae Kai Wildfire Preparedness Plan can be granted by the legislature."

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. 

Leeward Farmers Rebuild as HPD Continues Search for West Side Arsonist

"Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast." (Image: Hawaii News Now)

"Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast." (Image: Hawaii News Now)

From the Source:

Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast earlier this month.

Two of those fires burned 8,800 acres in Makaha and Waianae. The most destructive fire started in Waianae Valley just outside Ka Ala farm.

Eric Enos operates the cultural learning center there and says he has no doubts the fire was arson. He also says it's not the first time something like this has happened in the area.

Just down Waianae Valley Road, employees at Angels Scrap Yard estimate fires damaged about 90 percent of their inventory.

Several farmers in the area are also working to recover after fire burned over crops and damaged buildings.

He knows there is no quick fix, but Enos says putting a gate at the end of Waianae Valley Road could help keep track of people coming into the area, and deter criminals from entering.

"It's a hassle but if you look at the road, the stolen cars, the dumping, it adds up and it's millions of dollars worth of damage," Enos said.

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.

3 Brush Fires Started by Fireworks Along Highway 190

"A Hawaii County firefighter douses a brush fire off Highway 190 near mile marker 18 Friday afternoon." Laura Ruminski / West Hawaii Today

"A Hawaii County firefighter douses a brush fire off Highway 190 near mile marker 18 Friday afternoon." Laura Ruminski / West Hawaii Today

Mahalo to the good Samaritan who put out the first fire -- keeping a fire extinguisher in your vehicle is highly recommended. 

The Hawaii Police Department said it is investigating the fires and thinks fireworks started the blazes.

Anyone with information or who might have witnessed the fires being started is urged to call Detective Carrie Akina at 326-4646, ext. 277.


From the Source:

Fireworks appear to have sparked three brush fires reported within an hour Friday that forced a road closure on Highway 190 near Puuanahulu.

The blazes were ignited at mile markers 18, 21 and 26, starting shortly after 11 a.m., according to Hawaii Fire Department officials.

The first was put out by Stafford Lombard, who was driving by on his way to Hilo.

Fire officials say Lombard got out of his car and used a fire extinguisher. The driver of a cement mixer truck stopped to assist and smothered the remaining flames with a hose. Firefighters came and mopped up.

Authorities Investigate 3 Suspicious Brush Fires Along Waikoloa Road

"Hawaii Fire Department quickly extinguished three brush fires along Waikoloa Road and Route 190 Monday morning. Police believe the fires to be suspicious." Credit: Judy Wilder / West Hawaii Today

"Hawaii Fire Department quickly extinguished three brush fires along Waikoloa Road and Route 190 Monday morning. Police believe the fires to be suspicious." Credit: Judy Wilder / West Hawaii Today

From the Source:

"The first fire occurred on Route 190 near mile marker 12. according to the release, fire personnel were able to quickly extinguish it. The flames consumed approximately 1,000 square feet.

The second brush fire was discovered on the south side of Waikoloa Road near mile marker 10, which crews quickly extinguished. About a 50-foot area was burned.

The last blaze discovered was also on the south side of Waikoloa Road near Uluwehi Street. It destroyed approximately 1,000 square feet."

"Anyone who witnessed the cause of the fires or with information about the blazes is asked to contact Det. Carrie Akina, via email at Carrie.Akina@hawaiicounty.gov, or call at 326-4646 ext. 277.

The department also encourages community members to be aware of the recent fires, especially in the areas of Waikoloa Road and Route 190, and to report any suspicious activity in the area immediately to police at 935-3311."

58 Acres Scorched in Paʻia and Haʻiku Brush Fires

Photo Credit: Anna Kim / Maui Now

Photo Credit: Anna Kim / Maui Now

With very strong trade winds blowing and continuing dry conditions, be on the Wildfire Lookout! and evacuate early. Six homes were evacuated on the makai side of Hana Highway on Maui for a fire that came to within five feet of the homes. 

"Forty-two minutes after the Pāʻia fire was extinguished, crews responded to reports of a brush fire makai-side of Hāna Highway at the Ha‘ikū Road intersection at 6:32 p.m. When Pāʻia crews arrived 10 minutes later, a half acre of land was already scorched.

'Crews had just left the scene of the Pāʻia fire and didn’t even make it back to the station when they responded to the second fire,' Chief Taomoto said."

'When you’re in an open field with nothing going on, you start eliminating the potential igniting sources—structures and power lines, human habitation—and you come up with nothing, so there is the potential human cause and someone fled the scene,' he said.

Chief Taomoto said if the conditions are right and multiple factors line-up perfectly something as simple as a cigarette thrown out of a window could start some of the roadside fires. However, he said it’s suspicious when there are multiple fires within a small area, he used the three small grass fires off the Pali last month as an example."

Officials: Kihei Brush Fires Appear Suspicious

Credit: Asa Ellison / KFVE

Credit: Asa Ellison / KFVE

From the Source:

"The blazes near Kihei started in four places — and miles apart. They've burned about 100 acres.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the blazes were about 75 percent contained.

Officials said the fires appeared to be suspicious, but a cause has not yet been determined."

$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."

Paia Brush Fire Considered Suspicious, Homes Threatened

"Neighbors reported seeing kids running from the open field just before the fire broke out. The fire was stopped about 10-feet short of the home on Ulumau Place in Pāʻia. PC: 7.9.17 Maui Fire Department."

"Neighbors reported seeing kids running from the open field just before the fire broke out. The fire was stopped about 10-feet short of the home on Ulumau Place in Pāʻia. PC: 7.9.17 Maui Fire Department."

Mahalo Maui firefighters for protecting homes from the fire. It is peak fire season. Be prepared by being on the Wildfire Lookout!

From the Source:

"A total of two acres were scorched in Sunday’s fire. No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

Fire officials say a total of about six homes were threatened on Ulumau Place. Some residents on Ulumau Place and Maoli Place were evacuated briefly, but were let back into their homes after fire crews got the fire knocked down soon after.

Maui Fire services Chief Edward Taomoto said the cause of the fire was undetermined but is considered suspicious. Neighbors reported seeing children running from the open field just before the fire broke out."

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."

The Conversation - HWMO Interview June 2, 2017

Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

Check out HWMO's Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, on The Conversation on HPR! We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to share about wildfire readiness for 10 minutes on the air.

From the Source:

"With the hot dry summer months ahead, the fire threat, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is reminding the state that wildfires are nearly always started by people, regardless of intent."

HFD Suspects Arson in Recent String of Hawaii Kai Brush Fires

Credit: Blake Kinoshita / KFVE

Credit: Blake Kinoshita / KFVE

A recent string of brush fires in Hawaii Kai has been understandably making nearby residents nervous. HWMO will be taking part in two different community events on the week of June 5th to help address concerns and offer advice on next steps for community action. Mahalo to State Senator Stanley Chang and Representative Gene Ward for the invites to the meetings and for bringing attention to this growing issue.

From the Source:

"ʻWhat's being done in Hawaii Kai is totally unacceptable and we don't wish it on any community and that's why it's got to be stopped. It's gotta be stopped now,ʻ said state Rep. Gene Ward (R) Hawaii Kai.

Ward is organizing a June 6 town hall meeting where fire officials, police and wild fire experts will provide the public with the latest details on the fires.

'There are a lot of eyes and ears watching so whoever is doing this, they're going to get caught,' he said.

What's the Leading Cause of Wildfires in the U.S.? Humans

"More than 10 wildfires burned over 200,000 acres in Southern California in October 2003, many of them started by humans. This satellite image shows strong winds carrying smoke over the Pacific." Credit: MODIS Rapid Response Team/NASA

It is no surprise, human beings are the leading cause of wildfires in the U.S. (more than 98% of fires in Hawaii are caused by people). But now, thanks to scientists, we know the extent of the issue: humans cause 84% of forest fires nationwide! Prevention education is so important - we hope that you can continue to help HWMO spread the word about preventing wildfires to protect our communities, lands, and waters. 

From the Source:

"As a result, Balch says, not only are people causing the vast majority of wildfires, they're also extending the normal fire season around the country by three months."

"I think acknowledging that fact is really important," she says, "particularly right now when we have evidence that climate is changing, and climate is warming, and that fires are increasing in size and the fire season is increasing."

Highway Reopens as Firefighters Battle Five Fires Along Highway 190

"Firefighters survey the scene at mile marker 15 on Thursday afternoon." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

"Firefighters survey the scene at mile marker 15 on Thursday afternoon." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Arson is a serious offense and can have detrimental consequences on our communities, lands, and waters. And, of course, fires tax our resources and put our brave firefighters in harm's way. Please report any suspicious activity to Hawaii Police Department at (808) 935-3311.

From the Source:

"

The brush fires were located near mile markers 22, 19, 16 and 15.5 and the highway’s intersection with Waikoloa Road in South Kohala. All of the fires were located on the makai side of the road, with the exception of the fire near mile marker 15.5.

The fire near the 15.5 mile marker was estimated at 25 acres, while the remaining four fires were kept small due to favorable conditions and quick response times. The fire burned primarily in state Department of Land and Natural Resources land."

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.”

'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."

Rash of Vehicle Fires Keep Maui Crews Busy

Photo Credit: Wendy Osher/Maui Now

Abandoned vehicles are major fire hazards, especially along or within dry grass and brush. Just ask Maui firefighters who are working tirelessly to fight a number of abandoned car fires that seem to be growing on the island. Report any suspicious activity to the police. Mahalo!

From the Source:

At 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, two simultaneous but separate vehicle fires were reported on East Waikō Road in Waikapū. One was roughly 400 yards west of the Waiʻale Road intersection, and the other was about 300 yards east of the intersection.

At 3:52 a.m., the Wailuku crew found a truck on the shoulder of Waikō Road west of the Waiʻale Road intersection fully engulfed by fire, which was now spreading into the brush.

Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control, but not before it burned a 50 x 200 foot area of brush downwind and caused roughly $3,000 in damages to a nearby fence. The brush and vehicle fires were called extinguished at 4:34 a.m.

A fire investigator determined that that fire was intentionally set and originated in the bed of the truck, where a pile of car tires were believed to have been discarded. The Kahului engine and water tanker assisted the Wailuku crew after they extinguished the vehicle fire further down the street.

Portion of Farrington Highway Reopens After Suspicious Brush Fires

Screencap from KHON2 video.

Any tips on the suspicious brushfires along Farrington Highway near Honokai Hale? Please alert the police. 

From the Source:

"Honolulu police have reopened the right westbound lane on Farrington Highway at Laaloa Street near Honokai Hale that was closed due to multiple suspicious brush fires."

"Firefighters say crews battled three brush fires located on the side of the road, one that was 10 by 10 feet, a second that was 100 by 50 feet and a third that was 200 by 100 feet."