cane fire

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.”

Haleakala Highway Cane Fire Consumes 100 Acres of Fallow Land

"Football fans at War Memorial Stadium watch a game Thursday night while a brush fire lights up Central Maui and blackens former sugar cane fields. The blaze was fully contained at 2:03 a.m. Friday. It consumed about 100 acres. A cause had not been determined as of Friday night. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo"

"Football fans at War Memorial Stadium watch a game Thursday night while a brush fire lights up Central Maui and blackens former sugar cane fields. The blaze was fully contained at 2:03 a.m. Friday. It consumed about 100 acres. A cause had not been determined as of Friday night. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo"

With more and more lands going fallow, fire will continue to be on the rise in places like Central Maui where acres upon acres of cane are no longer being managed. Creative land management solutions that reduce wildfire risk will need to continue to be part of the discussion as we move forward. Thank you to Maui firefighters for keeping this fire at bay!

From the Source:

"Passing motorists alerted firefighters at 3:56 p.m. Thursday to the fire that started on the south grassy shoulder of Haleakala Highway in the vicinity of North Firebreak Road, he said. Kahului firefighters were on the scene at 4:04 p.m., and by then it had grown to 2 to 3 acres and could not be contained.

Gusty trade winds fanned the fire, spreading it quickly into a fallow cane field, Taomoto said."

Haleakala Highway and South Point Fires Burn on Maui and Big Island

Be on the alert - with drought conditions and strong winds, fires can become out of control or change direction quickly and can threaten homes, roadways, or other critical areas. Take precaution and stay tuned to local radio stations and county alerts. And remember to evacuate early should the fire become a threat to your neighborhood.

From the Source:

"On Maui, fighters are battling a fire along Haleakala Highway on the ground and by air. The fire was reported just before 4 p.m., and has since scorched 80 to 100 acres of old sugar cane crop."

Haleakala Highway Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Asa Ellison / Hawaii News Now

Haleakala Highway Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Asa Ellison / Hawaii News Now

Kaalualu Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Kane Thomas

Kaalualu Fire - September 21, 2017. Credit: Kane Thomas

"On Hawaii Island, a large brush fire near South Point in Ka'u has forced crews to issue a warning to residents.

They say the smoke could make it hard to see and make it harder to breathe near Waiohinu. Residents are being asked to stay out of the area.

Emergency responders say the fire broke out about 4 hours ago in Kaalualu. 

Fire crews can't expect much help from the weather in battling the flames either.

Winds are running at brisk speeds throughout the state making it difficult for firefighters to extinguish both fires. Rain is also scarce in those areas, and fire crews will remain on scene." 

Suspicious Fire Burns 4 Acres of Sugar Cane in Paia

Credit - Maui Now

Credit - Maui Now

Cane fires are quite dangerous fires for firefighters to fight on foot. Help them by reporting any suspicious behavior to your local police.

From the Source:

"The incident was the second unscheduled cane fire in as many days reported in the Pāʻia area.  An estimated one acre of sugar cane was burned in a separate incident on Thursday night near the old Lime Kiln site.

The latest fire was reported at 8:42 p.m. on Friday near Hāna Highway and the Pāʻia mini-bypass.

While waiting for representatives from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company to arrive, the Pāʻia fire crew and a Kahului water tanker were able to contain about 80% of the fire using large fire streams of water from fire trucks outside the field. 'Crews do not send firefighters on foot into cane fires because of unwarranted risks,' said Maui Fire Services Officer Edward Taomoto in a department press release."


Kihei Cane Burn Part of HC&S Annual Harvest

This is a good time to practice the "Set" portion of your Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guide. Pay attention to your surroundings including any sudden changes in wind. Even if it is a "controlled" burn, the best is to be prepared for the worst case scenario. You can access updates via text, email or online at HCSugar.com.

From the Source: 

"Several residents sent in photos this morning of a scheduled cane fire in South Maui.

The plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from Māʻalaea Harbor with light winds carrying the smoke skyward.

According to notifications from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, the fire was a scheduled burn that began at 6 a.m., and was to conclude 10 a.m. above Hawaiian Cement near Kīhei.

The burn is part of the company’s 142nd harvest that began in mid-March."

Above: "Oct. 27, 2014, 6:15 a.m. from Māʻalaea Harbor toward Kīhei. Courtesy Steve Butler aboard the Mahana Naiʻa." 

Above: "Oct. 27, 2014, 6:15 a.m. from Māʻalaea Harbor toward Kīhei. Courtesy Steve Butler aboard the Mahana Naiʻa." 

Da Glow of Mem'ry

Wildfire is a complex issue with many components - everyone has their own perspective about it. Here's an interesting, creative piece written by a local actress, storyteller, and cofounder of Manaʻo Radio named Kathy Collins (a.k.a. Tita).

From the Source: 

"Ho boy, dis cane burnin’ contra-versy get me all mix up. My head an’ my heart stay leanin’ opposite ways. My head know dat smokin’ is bad fo’ yo’ health. Ev’rybody know dat, even da guys who smoke. An’ even if cane smoke not da same as cigarette smoke, I t’ink any kine smoke not good. Dass jus’ common sense. An’ yet, in all da time I wen’ grow up ovah here, I no remembah evah getting sick from da cane fire smoke. All my fam’ly an’ friends too, same t’ing. Even my grandfaddah, who used to clean da humongous smokestacks at da sugar mill, he nevah did get da kine lung problems in his whole life. An’ he wen’ live till ninety. So even if I know in my head dat da cane fire smoke is bad, my heart no believe.

Growin’ up on Maui, cane burnin’ was jus’ one noddah part a life, like mango season, or wintah surf, or da Civil Dafense warning sirens dat go off on da firs’ workin’ day of da month. Nobody talk about changin’ ‘em. Dass jus’ how was.

Once in a while, my faddah would grumble about da cane fires, but wasn’t da smoke dat wen’ boddah him, was da Maui snow. When da wind blow one certain way, da black ash would come float inside da garage, an’ den my faddah had to hose off da garage floor, ‘cause da ash too light fo’ sweep. Sometimes my maddah, too, would grumble when da HC&S guy come around, door to door, wit’ da pepa dat tell us goin’ get cane fire da next day. No can wash clothes on burn days, unless you like black streaks all ovah yo’ stuffs. Me, I was happy, ‘cause hangin’ up da laundry was my job..."

Above: Credit - Maui Magazine

Above: Credit - Maui Magazine

Maui Firefighters Battle Stubborn Paia Fire

From the Source: 

"Fire fighters from Paia, Makawao, Kahului and Kihei; 2 Tankers from Wailea and Kahului, and Air-1 responded to an unscheduled cane fire located off of Holomua Road at 10:36 a.m. The fire was called 80% contained at 3:45 p.m. with approximately 200 acres involved. Crews are on scene extinguishing hot spots and conducting a mop up operation. The fire cause and damages are unavailable, an investigation is on going."

Above: "Pāʻia unscheduled cane burn." Credit: Karen Chun

Above: "Pāʻia unscheduled cane burn." Credit: Karen Chun