wet side fires

Fire Burns 20 Acres in Laupahoehoe Tuesday October 3

Google Maps view of Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection where fire occurred on October 3.

Google Maps view of Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection where fire occurred on October 3.

From the Source:

"Fire/Rescue crews responded to a 10:43 a.m. alarm Tuesday (Oct 3) to the Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection for a brush fire in Laupahoehoe.

Crews found a brushfire in vacant land buring 10-12 foot tall grass. The fire rapidly spread due to gusty trade winds at 25-35 mph. By 12:30 p.m. the fire was under control and had burned about 20 acres."

Makana Fire on Kauai Likely Caused by Hawaiian Fire-Throwing Ritual

Credit: DLNR

Credit: DLNR

Stay updated on the Makana Fire: https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiDLNR/

Dry conditions statewide - be fire safe by visiting Wildfire Lookout!

From the Source:

"Photos taken Tuesday evening on Kauai depict ‘Oahi O Makana – a ceremony in which a flaming spear is thrown from cliffs high above sea level – as part of a welcoming ritual for the voyaging canoe Hokulea.

Firefighters from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources remain on the scene of the fire, which has grown to approximately 100 square acres. Authorities say the blaze is burning between Haena State Park and Limahuli Gardens.

The park remains closed to visitors, as does access to the popular Kalalau Trail. Park officials say rangers are posted at the hike's trailhead and are turning would-be adventure-goers around."

"'About 90% of the state has been in drought conditions since July so we've sort of been watching the weather and known that it's been primed for fires to start. but it's just been the past week that we've seen the activity kind of spike,' said Clay Trauernicht, a wildfire specialist with the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension."

Brushfire Threatens Homes in Puna, Residents Evacuated Wednesday

Puna may be one of the rainiest areas on Hawaii Island, but that does not mean that brushfires cannot happen there. In fact, a brushfire on Wednesday, July 5, threatened 5 homes forcing residents to evacuate. Uluhe ferns are known to burn and carry fires quickly. Make sure to remove dead leaves from them and provide at least 10 feet of spacing above and around them if they are near your home. More tips in the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.

From the Source:

"Firefighters arrived to find a fire spreading in vacant lots along Iolani Street spreading mauka and makai due to gusts of trade winds. Crews worked to protect five homes along Cook and Kapiolani Streets as area residents were evacuated.

Crews had a difficulty fighting the fire due to heavy smoke reducing visibility to zero at times. Firefighters encountered Uluhe Ferns, Ohia Trees and unstable a‘a lava terrain while fighting the blaze. Tanker units were brought in to supply water as Chopper One did an aeria survey. Traffic was detoured to Diamond Head Drive and Aloha Road during firefighting operations."

Brush Fire Scorches 30 Acres on Kauai's East Side

30-acre brushfire near homes in Anahola. Credit: Kauai Fire Department

30-acre brushfire near homes in Anahola. Credit: Kauai Fire Department

This is a prime example of why illegal waste dumping poses hazards to our lands, communities and firefighters. 

From the Source:

"A brush fire on Kauai scorched 30 acres of land near Pilipoli Road late Monday."

"By 6:30 p.m., firefighters had control of the flames, but a pile of waste kept the flames from being fully extinguished. The pile consisted of abandoned vehicles, tires and other objects. It was removed by a bull-dozing crew sent by the Department of Public Works."

Brush Fire Chars 5 Acres Along Hana Highway

Credit: Maui Now

It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but even the wetter areas on the Hawaiian Islands can burn under the right conditions. Wet side fires, such as the one on Monday off of Hana Highway on Maui, can sometimes be especially challenging due to difficult access along cliffsides and taller, denser plant growth. A reminder that even if you are in the green, wildfires can burn in your area. 

From the Source: 

"Engine 2 from Pāʻia and Tanker 10 from Kahului responded and arrived at 5:45 p.m. to find about a quarter acre of thick vegetation and large eucalyptus trees burning on the hillside mauka of Hāna Highway, about a mile Kahului side of Honomanū Bay.

Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said crews could not make access to the fire because of steep terrain, with flames climbing up a near vertical slope, burning 150 to 200 feet above the highway."

"The fire forced the three hour closure of the roadway in both directions near Honomanū at Mile 11 while crews worked to fight the fire and burnt debris fell onto the roadway posing a safety hazard."

Organizations Kick Off Wildfire and Drought Look Out! Campaign

Credit - Molly Solomon/HPR

HWMO and its partners statewide worked together to launch Wildfire & Drought Look Out!, Hawaii's first coordinated statewide wildfire outreach campaign. Here are a number of news clippings from TV, radio, and newspaper sources and the links to each source.



“‘I have been preparing for it for years now,’ said Momoa. ‘Ever since I moved in there, I could see the vision that it was going to burn soon.’”

Big Island Now:

“‘We have set up both a public and a media page on the HWMO website. The public page will have loads of information for home and property owners on how best to prepare for the possibility of wildfire well in advance,’ said HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett. ‘We’ll include water saving information which is really topical during this prolonged drought event in many areas across the state, largely caused by El Nino weather conditions.’

HWMO will also maintain and manage a media page, where partners can contribute story ideas and leads for reporters and their news organizations.”

Maui News:

“Prevention suggestions include:

* Clearing combustible materials near homes and lanais.

* Keeping grass short and tree branches off of the ground.

* Creating a defensible space at least 100 feet around a home.

* Removing leaves and debris from gutters and roofs.

* Covering eaves and vents with -inch mesh.

* Creating and practicing a family evacuation plan.”


“With an above-average fire season ahead, state officials stress a need for public awareness. Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization is a nonprofit that’s working with federal, state and local agencies to kick start a campaign to provide information and tips for homeowners. More information can be found on their website, hawaiiwildfire.org.”

Honolulu Civil Beat:

More than 60 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions, and parts of the Big Island are facing extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Credit - Clay Trauernicht

“We hope this campaign, which has both a public and a media component, will educate and inform everyone living in and visiting Hawaii about the year-around threat of wildfires,” DLNR Director Suzanne Case said in a release.

Hookele News:

“The campaign seeks to educate homeowners and communities and empower them to take proactive steps that reduce the chances of wildfire ignition and create safer conditions for our firefighters.”


Hawaii's Wildland Firefighters Need More Resources

Three DOFAW firefighters watch as smoke billows from a distance. Credit: DOFAW.

Front page headlines!

With the ever-growing problem of wildfires statewide, Hawaii's first responders have faced numerous challenges accessing adequate resources to ensure communities and natural resources are out of harm's way. This is a great article that highlights the underlying issues of wildfire in Hawaii, the current realities of wildfire suppression across the state, and tactics that may help alleviate these issues. The answer: improved resources for wildland firefighting and a focus on pre-fire mitigation.

From the Source:

"Experts say both the frequency and size of wildfires have steadily grown in recent decades as changing weather patterns and invading fire-prone, non-native grasses and shrubs have put Hawaii’s forests and natural areas at greater risk of fire.

Data from a recent Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization study indicate that the average area burned each year in Hawaii has climbed by 400 percent over the past century.

The study also shows that an average of more than 17,000 acres has burned each year over the past decade, with some years exceeding even the most fire-prone Western states.

In fact, a greater percentage of Hawaii is under high risk of wildfire than any of the other 16 westernmost states, according to an assessment by the Council of Western State Foresters."

"Clay Trauernicht, extension fire specialist with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said the state needs to provide more realistic funding levels to help protect the state’s natural areas in the face of a rapidly growing wildfire threat."

"Cutting firebreaks, reducing vegetation and brush, and working with landowners to provide access for water and vehicles help to minimize the size of fires, their impacts and their potential danger to firefighters, he said."

"Trauernicht said the state should consider establishing a full-time team dedicated solely to wildfires. Not only would it improve the division’s initial response, but the team could also conduct pre- and post-fire activities when not responding to fires, he said."

Parched: Driest January on Record for Parts of West Hawaii

"Charred earth from the recent fire near Palamanui is seen along side of dry grass from the persisting drought in North Kona. (Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today)"

What is on pace for the 2nd strongest El Nino on record is not good news for those worried about wildfire. The key take away is that even if your area is considered "wet side", when there is no rain, the rainforest can burn. 

Here's a news piece with quotes from our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, and a long-time partner of ours, Jen Lawson, who directs the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.

From the Source:

"The Pacific is experiencing what will likely pan out to be the second strongest El Nino on record, behind only 1997-98. True to pattern, a snuffing out of the normal trade wind pattern and its accompanying showers are following the El Nino. If the past is any indication and long-term predictions hold up, there may be no relief in sight through April."

"West Hawaii had a very wet summer, leading to high loads of vegetation which have now dried out, causing concern for fire management officials. In Waikoloa, expanses of invasive buffelgrass and fountain grass have become parched, said Jen Lawson, who directs the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.

'We’ve had no precipitation at the forest in more than 12 weeks,' she said. 'Wildfire is what we are thinking most about now.”

Kodama said light winds have helped spare dry areas from fast-spreading fires. But that could change as winds pick up going into spring and conditions continue to dry out, he said.

Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said her group will be stepping up its fire safety outreach in the face of the drought.

'We have a pretty high hazard out there; now is time to be proactive and really be aware of the fire issue,' Pickett said. 'We’re getting very concerned.'"

Crews Battle Brush Fire in Laupahoehoe

"COLIN M. STEWART/Tribune-Herald A Hawaii County rescue helicopter returns after making several water drops above the wildfire in Laupahoehoe Tuesday afternoon."

"COLIN M. STEWART/Tribune-Herald A Hawaii County rescue helicopter returns after making several water drops above the wildfire in Laupahoehoe Tuesday afternoon."

The Hamakua coastline is not typically known for its wildfire issues. However, during times of drought, which we are currently entering into due to El Niño, wet areas can burn. This might be a telling sign of things to come. Even if you live in a typically wet area, it's best to prepare for wildfires now rather than when it's too late. Find out more about resources that will help you prepare.

From the Source:

"Located in the mauka areas near the ends of Spencer Road and Kihalani Homestead Road, the fire had charred large patches of the hillside and appeared at one point to approach at least one home at the top of the hill near the end of Spencer Road, the source said. The firefighters managed to knock the blaze in that area down, however, using a pair of fire engines and a county helicopter outfitted with a large water bucket.

The helicopter was seen making its way down to a livestock pond in the area several times to refill the bucket and return to drop it on hot spots on the hillside."

"A four-wheel drive road between Kihalani Homestead Road and Spencer Road appeared to have acted as a natural fire break in a few spots, with areas mauka of the road burned black and smoldering, while makai fields appeared to remain untouched."

Second Wildfire Discovered Near Keanakolu

From the Source:

"State fire crews working this weekend to mop-up a fire in a remote section of the Hilo Forest Reserve near Keanakolu found another small fire below a fenced unit on the Humuula Trail. The combined size of both fires is 3 acres. 

However, because the grass was green in the new area there was not a clean burn. As it dries out, it is re-igniting and burning, due to the high organic content in the soil."

Article link no longer active.

Lava Field Fire Crews Struggle to Protect Forest

From the Source:

“Forty mainland firefighters are cutting a second line of defense in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park against fires started by lava flows from Kilauea volcano, the park announced.
The effort is a continuation of work under way since November that has restricted fires to the immediate vicinity of lava flows, said park spokeswoman Mardie Lane. The result has been the protection of a lowland rain forest characterized primarily by lama trees, a wood considered sacred in Hawaiian culture, she said.”

Above:  "A firefighter in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park watches as lava burns a new path through a lama tree forest this week. Newly built firebreaks and the relative resistance of this kind of forest to flames have prevented a conflagration." Photo from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

"A firefighter in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park watches as lava burns a new path through a lama tree forest this week. Newly built firebreaks and the relative resistance of this kind of forest to flames have prevented a conflagration."
Photo from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park