planning/policy

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.”

Waianae Brush Fire Damages 17-Lots at Waianae Agricultural Park

Credit: KITV4

Credit: KITV4

It pains us to hear this news - we know how much sweat, toil, and care goes into farming. If you are a farmer who was impacted by the fire, we are with you. HDOA's Agricultural Loan Division is also offering the farmers financial assistance since the state essentially owns the park.

If you are a farmer or rancher or manage large areas of land, the ReadySetGo! wildfire preparedness guide has a detailed step-by-step guide on how to prepare your lands for wildfire. Also, Pacific Fire Exchange has great resources for developing your own pre-fire  plans.

From the Source:

The brush fire in Waianae damaged all 17 state-lots at Wai'anae Agricultural Park. 

The 150-acre park is home to crops like tomatoes, kale and palms. After the fire ripped through Waianae Valley, what's left are its charred remains. 

The Waianae Ag Park is one of 10 in the state of Hawaii and one of four on Oahu. The state's Department of Agriculture says all 17 lots in Waianae suffered damages in the brush fire: four are total losses.

Apart from crops, several structures on those farm lots were destroyed. Some even lost vehicles, tools and equipment in the fire. The state says irrigation systems were also severely damaged

Registration Open for Hawaii Wildfire Summit

2018_3_16_Hawaii Wildfire Summit_Schedule_at_a_glance_FINAL copy_Page_1.jpg

Mahalo to Big Island Now and West Hawaii Today for publishing information on our upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit.

From the Source:

Since wildfires are such a wide-spanning issue that affect communities, lands, and waters, the solutions require everyone playing a proactive role. The Hawai‘i Wildfire Summit is a unique opportunity to learn, share, and collaborate with others who deal with wildfire in their work and communities across Hawai‘i and the Pacific.

This year’s theme is “Collaborating Across Hawaii and the Pacific for Summit to Sea Wildfire Protection.”

Presentations and workshops that one would otherwise have to attend on the mainland U.S. will also be a highlight of the event, offering a local option to connect to national-level programs, research and trainings.

Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and World Renewal Ceremonies into Fire Adaptation: An Indigenous Stewardship Model

"Shown in this image is a California-hazel-stem basket holding tanoak acorns that were collected from the 2015 Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) burn area. Also shown is a Karuk woman’s “work” basket cap and an acorn cooking paddle made of Pacific maple. These are a few of the resources used by Karuk women to gather and prepare acorn soup. This burn reduced acorn pests, cleared out surface and ladder fuels to improved acorn gathering, and maintained the tanoak cavity at the base of this older tree. Cavities like this are important habitat for animals that hunt small game that eat acorns. "  Credit: Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service and Karuk Tribe.

"Shown in this image is a California-hazel-stem basket holding tanoak acorns that were collected from the 2015 Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) burn area. Also shown is a Karuk woman’s “work” basket cap and an acorn cooking paddle made of Pacific maple. These are a few of the resources used by Karuk women to gather and prepare acorn soup. This burn reduced acorn pests, cleared out surface and ladder fuels to improved acorn gathering, and maintained the tanoak cavity at the base of this older tree. Cavities like this are important habitat for animals that hunt small game that eat acorns. "

Credit: Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service and Karuk Tribe.

In Hawaii, traditional ecological knowledge plays a critical role in the path forward towards more resilient and vibrant landscapes and communities. For example, restoring native dryland plants that are culturally significant along watersheds and even around your own home, helps to also reduce fire threats and impacts to our communities, lands, and waters. Hawaii is not alone in integrating traditional ecological knowledge with fire adaptation, there are many other great examples globally, including in the mainland U.S.:

From the Source: 

"The Karuk Tribe’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and belief systems are constructed and preserved in the form of stories, practices, performances and ongoing interactions with the natural world. Among such rituals include our World Renewal Ceremonies, which the Karuk Tribe has practiced since time immemorial. These ceremonies have been passed down for millennia, and are a key part of our local communities’ social fabric. They link human practices like fishing, hunting and gathering to responsibility. They also ceremonially align our culture with ecosystem process and function. In our worldview, cultural resources have a life, as do the people using them. Each life deserves consideration when planning projects, including fire adaptation projects."

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."

The Power of Insurance Incentives to Promote Fire Adapted Communities

"Where wildfire meets homes, the fire suppression response may protect homes but distort the full cost of insuring the homes from wildfires. Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, 2012." Credit: USFS

"Where wildfire meets homes, the fire suppression response may protect homes but distort the full cost of insuring the homes from wildfires. Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, 2012." Credit: USFS

HWMO is exploring creative ways to motivate people and communities to action. One technique that some states are using is the power of the economic incentives. Check out this article written by a friend of the organization, Mr. Rob Galbraith, Director of Property Underwriting at USAA. We have opened discussions with the Division of Insurance and some companies such as USAA to offer insurance reduction rates for Firewise Communities. 

From the Source:

"I have attended several community meetings — co-presenting with local fire departments to encourage homeowners to take proactive steps to mitigate their exposure to the threat of loss from wildland fire. And the impact of combining intangible benefits (e.g., life safety, avoidance of property and financial loss) with tangible benefits (e.g., discount on homeowners insurance, recognition as a Firewise community through signage) can be a powerful motivator."

"Requirements by insurance carriers for property owners to take steps to mitigate their exposure to property losses from wildland fire can be a powerful motivator — when those requirements adhere to scientifically-based principles. Government entities may have similar levers in the form of citations, fines, fees, tax withholdings, etc. when property owners are not in accordance with local regulations and ordinances, but these generally are not as impactful as an insurance carrier’s refusal to continue coverage.

However, at times the requirements from insurance carriers can be counter-productive as they impose unreasonable or unnecessary burdens on homeowners. For example, a carrier may require 100 feet of clear cutting to create defensible space around the home, but the property line to the adjacent parcel may be within 100 ft. Removing vegetation may also run afoul of local ordinances on the size and types of trees that may be cut down. Finally, these requirements from carriers may not be performed reasonably in the amount of time given and may give the homeowner misleading direction on the prioritization of mitigation actions, namely starting 0-5 feet from the structure and moving outward over time."

HWMO Highlight on the Conversation

Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

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."

Witnesses Recount Waimea Blaze

Aerial view of Waimea fire. Credit: Hawaii Fire Department

Aerial view of Waimea fire. Credit: Hawaii Fire Department

We want to mahalo again the efforts of first responders for their efforts in keeping Waimea residents as safe as possible during the 2,000-plus acre brushfire. The number one priority is lives and safety and no people were injured during what could have been a much more destructive fire. However, we wish for a quick recovery for those impacted by the fire, including the woman who lost her home during the fire, Ms. Lindsey-Barkley who lost a couple sheep, and Parker Ranch who lost a great deal of water line and fencing. Many pets and livestock were evacuated safely during the fire. Having a pet and livestock evacuation plan is an important addition to your evacuation plan. You can find some of this information and more on wildfire readiness in the Ready Set Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.

From the Source:

"The woman said she went back to the house to save her animals: two cats, a dog and a bunny. 

The resident said the owner of the land has 25 head of cattle and two horses. All were safely evacuated."

"Nahua Guilloz, senior manager for the ranch, said 11,000 linear feet of above-ground water line and 400 feet of linear fencing were burned."

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness in Kona Kicks Off Wildfire Season

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Credit: Hawaii DLNR

Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Credit: Hawaii DLNR

We are excited to say that not only was HWMO's Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness a success on May 6, but it also received statewide media attention. One of the highlights of the event was the official launch of Wildfire Lookout!, a multi-partner coordinated statewide wildfire prevention and preparedness campaign. Mahalo to KHON2, KITV, and Big Island Video News for coverage of the event, and a very special mahalo to Department of Land and Natural Resources for documenting the day's proceedings and sharing with the media.

From the Sources:

"'In the end, all of us are impacted by wildfire. It’s just that some of those impacts are more invisible than others, so people aren’t quite as aware,' Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said.

Pickett says over 25-percent of the state has been invaded by non-native, fire-prone grasses and shrubs.

That percentage grows as fires consume native forests which are then taken over by those invasive species." - KHON2
 

"The importance of land and homeowners to be fire ready is the theme of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day events and activities across the country today. At the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area on Hawai‘i Island’s west side, Elizabeth Pickett watched as several non-profit organizations set up booths and exhibits for the first-ever Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Pickett is the executive director of the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), which with DLNR, and two dozen other State and federal government organizations and various non-profits are supporting the second year of a public and media awareness campaign: Wildfire LOOKOUT!

Pickett explained to people who dropped by the HWMO booth, that just because they may never have personally experienced a wildfire close to their home or property, that doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted. She explained, “Especially in our island environment the negative impacts of a wildfire in a specific location usually has detrimental impacts many miles away that can persist for years and even decades. You often hear people refer to 'mauka to makai,' and that effect pertains to wildfire. Once land is stripped of trees and vegetation it becomes much more prone to erosion and the introduction of invasive species and soot and sediment can wash from mountain forests to the sea where it can choke out life in coral reefs.'

Big Island State Representative Cindy Evans emphasized the need for everyone in Hawai‘i to become aware of these impacts and to do their part to prevent wildland fires. She’s seen first- hand the devastation and destruction, these often fast moving fires cause. Evans said, 'Even the loss of one home is one too many when you consider that with a little awareness, people truly can prevent wildland fires.'" - Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (picked up by Big Island Video News)

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."

Waikoloa's New Fire Management Committee

Waikoloa Fire Management Committee

Waikoloa is entering a new phase in wildfire protection with the formation of a new Fire Management Committee made up of four knowledgeable go-getters! As their first major goal, they are working with HWMO to become the largest Firewise Community in the State of Hawaii. HWMO completed a hazard assessment report for the village and the committee will now work on developing an action plan. We thank the new committee members for stepping to the plate to help protect the village from wildfires!

NOTE: The brief article is on page 3.

From the Source:

"WVA now has a newly formed Fire Management Action Committee. Team members are Mark Gordon (Chair), Wayne Awai, Bev Brand, Dave Faucette. The current goal of the Committee is to achieve a National Firewise Community designation for Waikoloa Village by the end of 2016.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13th 2016, members of the Committee, along with staff from Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, Hawaii Fire Department, Waikoloa Dryland Forest Initiative and the Department of Forestry and Wildlife conducted a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment. This involved conducting a home ignition zone assessment of 3 homes as varying examples of common wildfire hazards and Firewise modifications made to minimize exposure from embers and heat from wildfire. In addition, priority areas at risk of wildfire were examined by the team to determine what steps could be done to make the greater community more Firewise."

When Spark Meets Sprawl: Building in Wildlands Increases Fire Risk

Sand Fire. (Credit - Center for Investigative Reporting)

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.

From the Source:

"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.’”

'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."

Completing the (Fire) Cycle of Information Sharing

HWMO is working with its Pacific partners to bring national wildfire preparedness programs to the local level. Photo Credit: HWMO

Check out Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network's feature on HWMO released today, written by Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler.

Excited to see the hard work of HWMO and its Pacific partners showcased on the national stage!

Mahalo Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network for the opportunity to share our lessons learned.

From the Source:

"Living in the most remote island chain in the world with over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean separating us from the continental U.S. (a.k.a. “the mainland”), it is only fitting that Hawai‘i has a unique set of traits and challenges that can sometimes make one feel isolated from the rest of the world. However, the era of modern networking capabilities is helping shed light on the commonalities we share, while still honoring the differences that make us unique."

"Starting in 2013, HWMO collaborated with the IAFC Ready, Set, Go! program to produce a Hawaii-version of the Wildland Fire Action Guide. IAFC graciously printed 10,000 copies for HWMO and county fire departments to distribute. Replacing photos and references to conifer forests, shake roof homes, and other mainland- WUI features, HWMO integrated Hawai’i-specific photos and information and added an introductory section about wildfire in Hawai’i’. Since incorporating the new guide into our fire preparedness workshops and outreach booths, we’ve noticed a spike in interest from residents and even visitors about the Ready, Set, Go! program. Whether learning how to prevent embers from collecting under the lanai (patio) or browsing the visual list of recommended Firewise native plants, residents have taken the RSG! guides into their own hands. Launiupoko Firewise Committee in West Mauʻi plans to send more than 350 guides to residents as their first ever Firewise event."

Maui Firefighters Extinguish Kula Agricultural Park Brush Fire

Credit: Asa Ellison/Special to KHON2

HWMO is in the final stages of completing the Upcountry Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which will be up on our website soon. More and more wildfires are threatening Upcountry Maui, as witnessed with the latest brush fire that burned around 3 acres off of Pulehu Road below the Kula Agricultural Park. HWMO will be working with Waiohuli Hikina residents in Kula to help them become a Firewise Community this Fall, in preparation of the increase in wildfire activity in the area. 

From the Source: 

"It started at around 3:22 p.m. off Pulehu Road, below Kula Agricultural Park.

Fire officials say it burned two acres north of the road, and one acre to the south of it."

Watch Out for Wildfires

Currently there are several updates to Community Wildfire Protection Plans in the works, as well as new plans being developed.

Mahalo to The Garden Island for the nice feature on the wildfire situation in Kauai and the Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) that HWMO has been working.

From the Source:

“Don’t be fooled by the rain we might get and think we’re off the hook,” said Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a nonprofit that’s dedicated to spreading wildfire education. “Rain makes more vegetation grow, that dries out and then there’s more fuel for wildfire.”

Pablo Beimler, HWMO coordinator, said with the extensive drought period the state experienced earlier this year, and the EL Nino phenomenon that’s in effect “could spell trouble in the number of ignitions and the sizes.”

In preparation for that dry summer, HWMO has been working on six Community Wildfire Protection Plans, which outline the wildfire hazard sand issues each specific community faces, the organizations and entitles that have a stake in wildfire management, and how they can work together to minimize the number and sizes of wildfires this season.

Maalaea Fire Burns 4700 Acres Pushed by High Winds

Maalaea Fire smoke seen from Kihei. Credit: Asa Ellison/Hawaii News Now

Maalaea glows at night from the intense fire. Credit: Catie Koraleski/Facebook

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.

From the Source:

"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

"Maalaea Fire 2016 - Over 400 people waited out the road closures at War Memorial and another 75 or so at Lahaina Civic Center." Credit: Marc Nishimoto/Maui Civil Defense

"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

Road closures led traffic to a halt. Credit: KK Blogs/Twitter

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