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.
Our hearts are heavy today with the sad news of the death of a Calfire firefighter who bravely fought alongside many other firefighters on the massive Thomas Fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's loved ones.
From the Source:
"A firefighter died Thursday while working a colossal wildfire burning in coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles that has become the fourth largest in California history.
CBS Los Angeles reports the victim was a Cal Fire engineer who worked for the department's San Diego unit. The death, but no details of the circumstances, was confirmed in a statement from Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection."
Congratulations to Hawaii Fire Department, the Hilo community, Mayor Kim and the County Council, and all others involved in the building and blessing of the new Haihai Fire Station. As HFD Chief Darren Rosario, also a member of HWMO's Technical Advisory Committee, mentioned in his speech, please do stop by the new station if you are in the area. Firefighters are willing and able to answer your questions on fire safety, or just get to know who they are serving.
The Hawaii County Fire Department actually began operating out of the new facility at the start of November, but the event on December 14 was the community’s chance to celebrate the finished project. The new fire station allows the firefighters to relocate from their outdated facility on Kawailani Street.
Thank you to The Conversation on HPR for highlighting the wildfire issue and having HWMO's Elizabeth Pickett as a guest on the show! Peak wildfire season is not over (and in Hawaii, fire season is all year long) so stay vigilant, have a plan, and evacuate early.
From the Source:
"Hawaii has its own problem with wildfires, and each summer seems to bring a rash of fires that are mostly caused by people – some accidental, many of them deliberate. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization compiles the available data about each year’s wildfires."
These interactive maps and graphics offer a grim look at what we might expect as a new normal with climate change. The world is on fire like never before this year. Hawaii is no exception.
From the Source:
"Here in the United States the Forest Service is reporting that 2017 is shaping up to be a worse than average fire year based on acres of federal, private and state land burned. So far, 5.6 million acres of land has burned this year, or 1.8 million acres more than the ten year average of 3.8 million acres burned by this time."
"Across the border from the United States, fires are also currently scorching Canada’s British Columbia. This is the province’s second worst fire season on record and NASA satellites have identified the conflagration from space."
"On the other side of the globe, if you load up the European Commission’s fire map, it looks like the end of the world, especially in Italy and Romania. So far, an area just slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island has burned. The total is already roughly three times the normal amount of summer wildfires. Back in June, 60 people died over the course of one weekend in Portugal due to wildfires. Thirty people were killed when the fires reached roads on evacuation routes. And as the map makes clear, those fires don’t seem to be abating, in part because of the hotter, drier temperatures."
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.”
We are glad to hear homes and people were safe after Honolulu Fire Department was able to keep the blaze near Patsy Mink Regional park away from homes. It was a close call though and we are just in the beginning of peak fire season. Be prepared and have a plan!
From the Source:
"At one point, witnesses say windy conditions pushed the large flames close to homes and HPD evacuated nearby residents. Luckily, HFD extinguished the flames before any homes were damaged."
Another day to be thankful for firefighters and all they do in yet another busy wildfire season across the continent. Remember to GO! early if I fire is in your area. Leaving early alleviates traffic jams, creates safer access for firefighters, and prevents valuable first response resources from being used for search and rescue efforts. Hawaii residents, more information available in the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide and Wildfire Lookout!
"Firefighters on Monday made progress against wildfires burning across numerous states in the hot, dry West.
That included California, where slightly cooler temperatures and diminishing winds helped firefighters as they battled several wildfires that have forced thousands to flee their homes in both ends of the state."
Large brushfires can have many impacts outside of just land area burned: homes are at risk, flights can be cancelled, animal shelters can be in danger, even from just smoke inhalation. That is exactly what happened during a large 2,000-plus acre wildfire in Waimea. Our brave firefighters were able to keep damage to a minimum during the wildfire and help from Humane Society volunteers ensured animals were kept safe from the flames and smoke. Community is more important than ever during times like these. We thank community members and firefighters for their efforts. A great way to honor our firefighters (and fire prevention and mitigation efforts) will be the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off in Waimea. Come join us -- we could use your help especially after scares like these.
"'We could see a lot of smoke going into the sky,' Carlos said. 'And we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is that?’ And the closer we got to Waimea town, we could see it was really close to town.'
The fire prompted Hawaii Island Humane Society to evacuate its Waimea shelter Friday afternoon.
Director Donna Whitaker said in an email that volunteers removed 55 animals from the shelter. They were taken into the care of community members, staff and volunteers."
"The Waimea-Kohala Airport closed its runway Friday as a precaution, airport manager Tim Hand said when contacted at about 2 p.m. The closure was expected to remain in place until 10 p.m. Hand said the airport also had received several phone calls."
"Police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating witnesses to the start of the fire. The investigation is being continued by the Area II Criminal Investigation Section. They are asking anyone with information to call Detective Dominic Uyetake at 326-4646, ext. 228, or email him at Dominic.Uyetake@hawaiicounty.gov. They also can call the Police Department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311.
Those who want to remain anonymous can call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000."
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."
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.
Wildfires in Hawaii Kai have been a cause for concern of late for residents -- this being another frightening wake-up call. Be prepared and have a plan by checking out the Wildfire Lookout! homepage.
From the Source:
"A brush fire deep in the Kamilo Nui Valley in Hawaii Kai has charred roughly 20 acres and continues to burn early Thursday, the Honolulu Fire Department said. "
"Nearby residents say this fire is the largest out of a string of recent fires in the area.
'It's been going on for two months. There are small fires, but this one is the real biggest one,' resident Carolyn Kawano said. 'It's hard to say because I know there's like, homeless up there too. So they don't know who the culprit is.'
It may be surreal to watch as horses are led through sidewalks of paved streets in an urban neighborhood, but that was the reality on Saturday, February 4th when a couple wildfires in East Oahu filled neighborhoods with smoke (and burned to the edge of a home). If you have pets or livestock on a property, follow the step-by-step evacuation plan checklist on pages 15-16 of the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.
Personal recreational drones complicated the firefight for Honolulu Fire Department. Please make sure to keep drones out of the air during wildfires as they are a safety hazard for helicopters. A trending YouTube video is not worth risking the lives and safety of our firefighters and communities.
From the Source:
"There were tense moments for homeowners, with one house just feet away from the scorched ground. Firefighters were stationed nearby to safeguard homes.
HFD Capt. David Jenkins said the fire quickly grew “with the winds being variable and blowing in different directions, causing some impact on the fire.”
The fire was called contained at approximately 3:45 p.m. No homes were damaged or directly threatened by the fire, and there were no evacuation of residents.
Jenkins did say that the fire did go up and into Koko Crater and the stables were evacuated. None of the horses were injured."
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!
"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.”
An incredibly thorough and comprehensive Center for Investigative multimedia article with many facts, figures, maps, images, and soundbites that is definitely worth checking out! This is the article to read if you want to learn more about the current state of the "Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)" and the continuing risks developing into the wildlands presents for communities and our natural resources.
"Nationally, more than a third of new homes built since 2000 are in WUI areas. What has happened, wildfire historian Stephen J. Pyne wrote in 2008, is that we’re “leaving natural growth alone and then stuffing the openings with combustible structures.”
“Stephen J. Pyne, the wildfire historian, said that unless there’s coherent and coordinated policy that looks at development and forest management, these problems will be difficult to solve.
‘Otherwise, you’re just in the whack-a-mole mode and you’re not going to win,’ Pyne said. ‘In cities, every fire you put out is a problem solved. In wildlands, every fire you put out is a problem put off.’”
Wildfire season is off to a heavy start in California. 3 large wildfires - Blue Cut, Clayton, and Chimney - have collectively burned over 43,000 acres and destroyed over 200 homes. Many firefighters are claiming they have never seen fire behavior from these fires quite like they have this year. We keep hearing this year after year. The new norm is the abnormal with climate change.
Our thoughts are with all of those who have lost loved ones, homes and valuables through the rash of wildfires burning through California. Big shoutout to the first responders who have put their lives on the line during these harrowing fires.
"Paik said he has lived intermittently in his van over the last two days. When he left his house Tuesday night, he said, he didn't bring anything with him, but returned to his powerless home the next day to get clothes and his passport.
'The firemen worked hard,' he said. 'I had … confidence, maybe overconfidence, so I just brought nothing.'"
"Firefighters use standard guidelines to maneuver amid a fire, he said, prioritizing life safety over property conservation and property conservation over environmental protection. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
'It helps the firefighters,' he said, 'but every fire is different. There’s not a set ‘If this is happening, do this.’ It’s all up to the best judgment of the firefighters.'"
As is commonly said: "all it takes is one spark." Investigators have traced the now 43,000 acre brushfire burning through the beautiful Carmel, Big Sur, and Pebble Beach areas to a single illegal campfire. Dozens of homes have been destroyed by the dramatic fire. When it comes to campfires and BBQs, clear vegetation 10 feet around and above them. Keep a shovel and water nearby and put the fire out COLD before walking away. Avoid open fires when it is windy or grass and brush are dry and make sure to follow any regulations regarding fire use.
"Whoever built and then abandoned the fire around July 22 in the Garrapata State Park could face criminal and civil penalties for sparking the blaze, which has now burned more than 43,000 acres near Carmel, Big Sur and the Pebble Beach golf resort. Authorities said hikers who reported the fire had to first climb up to a ridge top to get mobile phone reception."
"Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency to free up resources for firefighting efforts, and several neighborhoods remain evacuated. Homes in the area are spread amongst the hills, linked by narrow roads winding through the tree-and-brush-covered landscape parched by the state’s ongoing drought. Due to the drought and fire risk, campfires outside of campgrounds are barred in large sections of California."
It was only a week ago when a 4,700 acre fire burned through Maalaea in West Maui threatening homes and causing massive traffic jams. Another large fire is burning in the Olowalu-Ukumehame area, totaling over 1,300 acres. Only a month or so ago, HWMO, Maui Electric Company, and DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife collaborated on a project to create fuelbreaks along powerlines on the mauka side of Ukumehame.
"Maui police evacuated two homes Friday night as a precaution, and residents returned hours later. MFD says that the homes are not in immediate danger at this time, and no homes have been damaged.
Honoapiilani Highway was closed for a short time, but it remains opens Saturday. Firefighters say they do not anticipate any more road closures."
Honoapiilani Highway and North Kihei Road were closed down numerous times due to a fierce battle with a 4,700 acre brush fire in Maalaea on West Maui. The area has an extensive history of wildfires and has prompted countless road closures and evacuations. Maui County officials at one point urged "those in Lahaina to plan on eating dinner there before braving the gridlocked traffic to Central Maui."
Mobile office trailers and some construction vehicles were damaged during the fire and power lines were scorched leaving many without power.
Shelters were opened for 100s of people needing a place to clamp down for the night.
First responders rescued a group of hikers who were trapped up mauka.
Wildfire season is coming on strong. There are a number of ways to be prepared. Head over to the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! homepage for more.
"There were some construction vehicles and mobile office trailers that sustained damages from the fire but no monetary damage estimates are available. Communication utility lines near Maalaea Harbor appear to have been damaged by flames when the fire raced through the area by strong winds. No homes were damaged." - Maui Watch
"The Maui Fire Department would like to thank the public for their patience Saturday, while the road closures were in effect. Safety of the public and for firefighters working on the fire scene is always our top priority." - Maui Watch
"The Hawaii Red Cross, along with Maui Civil Defense, opened up two shelters at the Maui War Memorial and the Lahaina Civic Center at 6 p.m. Saturday. While both shelters were closed at 7 a.m. Sunday, they are standing by if they need to reopen later in the day.
"Of those that stayed in the shelters overnight, a great majority of them were tourists. There were a total of 472 people in the Maui War Memorial shelter and 150 in the Lahaina Civic Center shelter." - KHON2
"We had Polynesian tours and Roberts Hawaii buses literally dropping off people by the bus load. It was a bit hectic, definitely, at the shelters last night," Michele Liberty, the Red Cross Maui County director, said. - Hawaii News Now
"Kayla Delos Santos, who was traveling with family members from Lahaina to Kahului, said “it was in a grassy area on the left, a dry area, and it was a long, straight line of fire. I can say it was about two to three miles.” - KHON2
The mauka side of the highway is mostly grassland. Witnesses say horses that normally graze in the field were moved to safety." - KHON2
"I lost all cell phone communication during this time so I really didn't know what was going on," she said. "After 4.5 hours of sitting in traffic I finally turned my car around and go the opposite direction around Wailuku and that traffic was even worse. It was an absolute nightmare." - Hawaii News Now
Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa was caught up in the traffic Saturday and said events like this shows West Maui needs more alternative roads.
"Last nights brush fire was a perfect example of why we need an alternate route to and from West Maui. Our residents and visitors can be cut off at any time due to a brush fire, rock slide or even a bad traffic accident," Arakawa said. "I urge our state delegates, governor and lieutenant governor to do another environmental impact study that looks at every alternative to creating another West Maui route."
Arakawa added: "These events that cut off Lahaina from the rest of the island are happening all too often and we need to look for other solutions." - Hawaii News Now
A home is a home, regardless of who lives in it or what the situation is. That's how firefighters in Maui approached the latest 30 acre fire in Ukumehame. Firefighters worked to save makeshift shelters in a homeless encampment even with high winds and difficult access. Although the fire destroyed at least one encampment, a few were saved, no injuries were reported and no homes in neighboring subdivisions were threatened. Mahalo as always to our firefighters!
"An area resident reported hearing a loud explosion just before flames were seen erupting from an open field just north of Pohaku Aeko Street and mauka of Honoapiʻilani Highway. Winds quickly spread the fire makai towards Honoapiʻilani Highway, which forced a brief shutdown of all vehicle traffic for about 30 minutes."
"Fire investigators were not able to determine the exact cause of the fire, but believe that it started near a group of homeless encampments discovered in the brush. One encampment was overrun by the flames and was destroyed, but two other makeshift shelters were saved by fire crews. No homes in the subdivision were threatened and no injuries were reported."