large fires

Firefighters Struggle to Contain Large Wahiawa Fire Along Kaukonahua Road

Wahiawa Fire. Credit: KITV4

Wahiawa Fire. Credit: KITV4

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters are working to contain a growing brush fire that has scorched roughly 375 acres in Wahiawa.

One driver reported seeing thick smoke in the area.

“I was coming down Kaukonahua Road and it was just completely smoke. You could see it coming from Wahiawa. But as you got further down, you could see it -- like plumes of smoke coming up,” Cora Pierce said as she watched the smoke billow.

HFD said windy conditions, accessibility and steep terrain have been major challenges.

Climate Change is Creating Catastrophic Wildfires

“Wildfires can have detrimental impacts on entire ecosystems.” Credit: Reuters / Rafael Marchante

“Wildfires can have detrimental impacts on entire ecosystems.” Credit: Reuters / Rafael Marchante

According to a recent study from Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension, parts of Hawaiʻi Island are at risk of an increase in up to 375% in annual fire risk due to climate change. Global warming is contributing to worsening wildfire conditions across the globe.

From the Source:

With little fanfare and scant news coverage, fire season 2019 has arrived. Firefighters are already containing blazes in several states, including ColoradoFlorida and Oklahoma, and seasonal outlooks suggest that significant wildfires are likely in parts of Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast.

While forest management and human development have increased wildfire incidence and risk, climate change has exacerbated the trend of large fires and contributed to the lengthening of the fire season, in some cases making wildfires a year-round phenomenon. In the Western U.S., climate change is a major driver behind the near doubling in burned area that we've experienced over the past 35 years, and has contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of fires, while lengthening the fire season in some regions.




Wildfire Rips Along South Korea's Eastern Coast, Prompting National Emergency

Our thoughts are with those impacted by these tragic wildfires in South Korea.

“A forest fire is seen raging near buildings in Sokcho, South Korea. South Korea mobilized troops and helicopters to deal with the massive blaze that roared through forests and cities along the eastern coast.” Credit: Kangwon Ilbo / Getty Images

“A forest fire is seen raging near buildings in Sokcho, South Korea. South Korea mobilized troops and helicopters to deal with the massive blaze that roared through forests and cities along the eastern coast.” Credit: Kangwon Ilbo / Getty Images

From the Source:

South Korea is using its military to contain a large forest fire that spread quickly after igniting in Gangwon Province, along the country's east coast. Strong winds moved the blaze from city to city, prompting President Moon Jae-in to declare a national emergency.

It's being called the worst wildfire to hit South Korea in years, forcing thousands to evacuate and ravaging rural towns. Fire officials are reporting two deaths, according to the Associated Press.

In Gangwon's national forests and other woodlands, fires are common in the spring — but they usually don't spread so quickly, and they're usually confined to unpopulated areas, residents tell the Korea Herald.

Hawaii Wildfire Potential Above Normal April Through July

month1_outlook.png

Be vigilant - wildfire conditions are ripe for wildfire these next few months in Hawaii. Are you prepared? Check out the Ready, Set, Go! guide and Wildfire LOOKOUT! for tips on how to prepare for and prevent wildfires.

From the Source:

Hawaii and Puerto Rico will continue to see slightly elevated potential early in the outlook period until the impacts of tropical weather conditions begin to be felt.

El Nino Conditions Played a Part In the Raging Brush Fires Over the Weekend

Credit: KITV4 News

Credit: KITV4 News

El Nino means more wildfires. More wildfires means more impacts. We must all be ready for a busy fire year. Check out Wildfire LOOKOUT for wildfire prevention and preparedness resources at your fingertips.

From the Source:

"With El Niño comes drought usually and so that dries out all the vegetation and we can get an out of season active period in terms of brush fires,"  Kevin Kodama, hydrologist, National Weather Service, said. "For the Leeward areas, you're really getting out of a chance of any sort of meaningful rainfall for that side of the island anyway. It's the driest time of the year."

"The big risk factors are sort of all of these unused former agricultural lands but all this grass," Clay Trauernicht, wildland fire specialist, University of Hawaii, said. 

"It should allow folks in those communities to start to get ready and realize the threat is there and they can do something about it now to minimize the impact,"  Captain Scot Seguirant, HFD, said. 

To help prevent wildfires, Seguirant recommends residents cut their brush and vegetation to at least 30 feet away from their homes. 

500 Acre Brush Fire Behind Nanakuli Sack N Save 100% Contained

Fire behind Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Credit: KITV4

Fire behind Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Credit: KITV4

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters say a West Oahu brush fire that burned since pre-dawn on Sunday is 100 percent contained. The fire department says 500 acres burned, and hot spots and smoke are coming from burned areas. 

HFD says strong gusty wind conditions, accessibility, and terrain are challenging fire fighters efforts. In Nanakuli, the fire came as close as 100 feet to some homes.

HFD says the fire originated in Nanakuli Valley and branched off into Waianae Valley. Throughout the day, it was an active fire that firefighters battled on multiple fronts, and with the help of the federal fire department.  



750 Trees Find New Homes in the Mountains of Waianae

“Dozens of volunteers got down and dirty to plant roughly 750 trees on Oahu’s west side.” Credit: DLNR.

“Dozens of volunteers got down and dirty to plant roughly 750 trees on Oahu’s west side.” Credit: DLNR.

Important work being done by our partners from the Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership and DLNR to reforest Waianae Kai State Forest Reserve, which will create a more resilient landscape and reduce the wildfire risk in the area. If you want to get involved with the planting events, you’re asked to contact coordinator Yumi Miyata at (808) 227-9545, or wmwpcoordinator@gmail.com.

From the Source:

“The Enterprise Urban Tree Initiative brings our employees together to volunteer in communities like Waianae that have been devastated by natural disasters, such as wildfires,” said Chris Sbarbaro, Enterprise Hawaii Vice President of External Affairs. “We support the Arbor Day Foundation and its partners in their efforts to build strong communities from the ground up and create a sustainable and inclusive future for all.”

The need to restore Oahu’s west side comes as a dry spell started to hit Nanakuli, and is likely to move toward Waianae during the normally hot and dry summer months.

“Unfortunately, wildfires have become more frequent in Waianae. The cycle of infrequent, heavy rain followed by dry, hot and windy weather creates the perfect conditions for fast-moving, intense fire. A recent fire in August 2018 burned more than 1,500 acres of the forest reserve, threatening native forests important for water recharge,” said Yumi Miyata, Waiʻanae Mountains Watershed Partnership Coordinator and Chair of Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships.

Mauna Kea Fire Burning 110+ Acres Caused By Camp Fire

“A brush fire continues to burn off Daniel K. Inouye Highway Wednesday near near the Maunakea Access Road.” (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

“A brush fire continues to burn off Daniel K. Inouye Highway Wednesday near near the Maunakea Access Road.” (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

From the Source:

The fire, which broke out about 10 a.m. Tuesday in the northeastern corner of Pohakuloa Training Area, had burned about 110 acres of state and U.S. Army land as of Wednesday afternoon. It’s burning on the slopes of Mauna Kea, about 2 miles north of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and on the Kona side of Mauna Kea Access Road, said PTA spokesman Mike Donnelly.

“In the last 24 hours, these guys have done a remarkable job containing this fire given the brutal terrain that they’re in,” Donnelly said after observing the fire from a helicopter. The blaze is about 70 percent contained.

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.

El Nino Impacts Likely Through Winter, Into Spring - Higher Potential for Large Wildfires in Hawaii

“A Hawaii County firefighter monitors a brush fire.” (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

“A Hawaii County firefighter monitors a brush fire.” (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

El Nino means a higher potential for large fires throughout much of Hawaii. Be prepared by going through the Ready Set Go! Action Guide and WildfireLOOKOUT! materials — there are many ways to get involved and Take Action.

From the Source:

El Nino has more than one impact on water. It doesn’t just heat it up, it changes how much falls from the sky and when.

Matthew Foster, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said NWS has forecast a 90 percent chance of El Nino in the winter and a 60 percent chance it persists into the spring.

According to North Ops Predictive Services, rainfall totals are projected below normal levels from December through the spring months assuming an El Nino takes hold and hangs around.

Because of this, and despite rainfall through last summer and fall that left green grass crop in several areas across the state, large fire potential is expected to increase to above normal levels from January to March.

“December was still neutral conditions,” Foster said, “(But) it would be expected drier than normal over the next few months.”

New Year’s Eve and Day were jointly characterized by three separate blazes in West Hawaii alone, two in the area of Waikoloa Village and one above Hawaiian Homes in Kawaihae.

50 Acre Fire Near Kona Costco Extinguished

Click above for video from KHON2

Click above for video from KHON2

From the Source:

A fast-moving brush fire in Kona scorched about 50 acres before firefighters were able to get it under control on Friday afternoon.

The blaze started about 3 p.m. near Hinalani Street and Ane Keohokalole Highway.

The Ulu Wini housing complex and several businesses, including Costco, are close to where the blaze and so an emergency shelter was opened for any displaced residents.

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.

How One Homeowner Saved His House from the Carr Fire

Credit: FEMA

Credit: FEMA

Investing in wildfire preparedness works. Check out this wildfire risk reduction success from a FEMA excerpt from Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.

From the Source:


“Some of the wildfire mitigation measures he took during construction and maintained over the years to make his home fire-resilient included:

  • A well-maintained, simple Class A metal roof.

  • A non-combustible zone (3-5 feet wide) around the outside of the home that helped prevent embers from landing in close-by vegetation.

  • Pruned trees and low-growing cactus and succulents.

  • Boxed-in or soffited eaves with venting located at the outside edge. This makes ember intrusion more difficult.

  • Well-maintained stucco siding.

  • Accessible water and hoses labeled with reflective signs for firefighters.”

In California Wildfires, Disabled People May Be Left Behind

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

The voices of those with disabilities need to be heard and included in all disaster preparedness planning. Here is a powerful article written by a wheelchair user who uses a ventilator on ways you can support people with disabilities as frequent natural disasters have become the worsening normal with climate change.

From the Source:

Climate change is real. Frequent natural disasters are the new normal. Right now, disabled advocates are working with communities all over the state connecting them to the help they need. Community organizations and informal networks need support coordinating services and providing direct assistance. Our lives are at stake and thoughts and prayers are not enough. Below are some ways you can support people with disabilities and the general population during these wildfires and the ones to come in the near future.


1. Ability Tools is a program of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, providing medical equipment, daily living aids, and technology to people in shelters who need them. They are currently taking donations, and you can contact them via Facebook or by calling 1-800-390-2699 (1-800-900-0706 TTY). Support them by donating money or equipment in good condition.

2. Donate to the Portlight Strategies/Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, a national organization on disability rights, accessibility and inclusion related to disaster operations. It manages a 24-hour disaster hotline for for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs (1-800-626-4959 or info@disasterstrategy.org)

3. Give money to Mask Oakland, a volunteer group of queer disabled people delivering free N95 respirator masks to Oakland’s most vulnerable. They use donations to buy more masks and post receipts of all their purchases. Twitter: @MaskOakland; Venmo: @maskoakland.

4. Donate to the Northern California Fire Relief Fund by the North Valley Community Foundation to raise money to support the operations of organizations sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire.

5. Give to Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program from the California Fire Foundation, which gives $100 gift cards to people impacted by wildfires including firefighters and civilians.

Fueling the Fire: Trump Thinks Logging Will Stop the Burning in California. It won't.

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

One of the most renowned wildland fire experts, Stephen J. Pyne, offers more than his two cents of why the California fires are as extreme as they are…and it is not because California has not removed enough trees.

From the Source:

Where fires are crashing into towns, the real fuel is the built environment. Aerial photos of savaged suburbs tend to show incinerated structures and still-standing trees. The vegetation is adapted to fire; the houses aren’t. Once multiple structures begin to burn, the local fire services are overwhelmed and the fire spreads from building to building. This is the kind of urban conflagration Americans thought they had banished in the early 20th century. It’s like watching measles or polio return. Clearly, the critical reforms must target our houses and towns and revaccinate them against today’s fire threats. The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise program shows how to harden houses and create defensible space without nuking the scene into asphalt or dirt.

Too often, whether we’re talking about politics or fire management, the discussion ends up in absolutes. We leave the land to nature, we strip it, or we convert it to built landscapes. We have either the wild or the wrecked. In fact, there are lots of options available, and they will work best as cocktails. There is a place for prescribed burning, for prescribed grazing, for prescribed thinning (a kind of woody weeding), for prescribed chipping and masticating by machines, for greenbelting—crafting swathes of low-fuel land use like recreational parks or even golf courses—and, in select sites, for prescribed logging. Most treatments should concentrate where people and high-value assets are at risk—exurbs, suburbs, municipal watersheds. Elsewhere, in wildlands, some kind of managed fire will likely prove the most usable means, and in the West, hybrid practices—half suppression, half prescribed burn—are becoming common.

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.

Fire Is the One Hawaii Disaster We Can Avoid

The August 2018 wildfires in Waianae Valley. Credit: Clay Trauernicht

The August 2018 wildfires in Waianae Valley. Credit: Clay Trauernicht

An excellent article by Dr. Clay Trauernicht, wildland fire specialist of University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange.

Not only does he explain why wildfires in Hawaii have burned 30,000 acres in August 2018, (more than double the annual average), but that it was predictable and there is much people can do to prevent wildfires. Dr. Trauernicht specifically sites the Wildfire LOOKOUT! tips for wildfire prevention.

To learn more about what you can do to protect your home and community from wildfire, visit HawaiiWildfire.org/lookout

From the Source:

Vegetation may be the most problematic issue facing fire management in Hawaii. Simply put, our communities and forests now exist amid an ocean of fire-prone grasslands and shrublands — about a million acres statewide. This is mostly a consequence of benign neglect as the value of real estate outweighs the value of maintaining production landscapes. Our agricultural and ranching footprint has declined by more than 60 percent across the state….

So what can we do about it? Awareness and education is the first step. Multiple state and county agencies and non-profits are working on this via the Hawaii Wildfire Lookout! Campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Fire prevention education can reduce accidental fires. Homes can be “hardened” to reduce the risk of loss. Communities can become “firewise” and organize to take actions such as increasing access for firefighters and reducing hazardous fuels near homes.

Vegetation is in some sense the simplest issue to tackle because it is the only fire hazard we can directly manage.  Yet it is also the most challenging due to the scale of the problem — the million acres of grasslands and shrublands across the state. There are multiple solutions for reducing risk in these fuels: fuel breaks, targeted grazing, prescribed fire, the restoration of agricultural and native ecosystems. There are also regulatory measures that can help such as firewise building and development codes.

Check out this letter to the editor from a former Firewise Co-Chair for Launiupoko, Ms. Linda Jenkins, who talks about their Firewise outreach efforts as a pathway forward.

”We completed assessments and provided all our neighbors with tips on how to make their homes and properties fire wise. An extensive public education campaign was conducted and we received our Firewise certification. We circulated tips on how to build a home and lay out a property to reduce fire risk. We also circulated tips on how to make your existing property and already built home safer.

This was successful in that many people made simple changes to their properties. I was also on the board at Makila and we maintained the sides of the bike path to create a fire break and kept our grass verges green.”

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."

Brush Fire Near Kahe Power Plant Burnt Almost 300 Acres

Credit: KITV4

Credit: KITV4

A woman was treated for smoke inhalation. Flames got as close as 10 ft. to some homes in the Kahe Point area but no structure suffered damages. 

The fire was reportedly started by an arc from the power plant as a result of wire contact due to storm conditions.