Why Homes are Lost to Wildfire: This Forest Service Expert Says it's as Much a Sociopolitical Problem as it is Physical

Very interesting interview with the founder of the Firewise Communities Certification Program. Although some of the content doesn't quite apply to Hawaii, there are many lessons learned to gain from it.

From the Source: 

"Wildland fires are inevitable. And without homeowner engagement, without their participation in mitigating the problem, firefighters can't be effective. It's continuing a problem to have my own agency, federal agencies in general, and most fire departments in this country that deal with wildland fire issues, not be telling people that by and large, under the conditions that destroy lots of houses, we can't deal with this without your participation. It's about taking responsibility for the condition of your house, before the fire, because nobody else can. And it's not just the material that the house is made of, it's the condition that lends itself to potential ignition. It's a big maintenance issue too…

You don't have to eliminate fire from your property completely, but you have to keep flames from contacting your structure and you have to keep firebrands from having high ignition potential when they land on your house - because they will. Which means all of the fine fuels need to be gone from on and immediately around your house before fire season even starts. All flammable things need to be swept away from your house at least about five feet. The grass needs to be mowed immediately around the structure, but you don' t have to mow an acre.

You don't have to cut all the trees down, you just have to make sure they're not contacting each other, and they're not continuous with the wildland. Make sure fire on the surface can't easily burn up the tree and torch out, because that creates firebrands close to the house. I highly encourage hardwoods around the structure as a shield, they just don't support high-intensity fire, and can become a very, very good radiation barrier."

Above: "The wreckage of a burned structure sits near a surviving home after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder, Colorado. The 7,000 acre fire claimed nearly 170 houses in the first days of the blaze. Several of the houses that were saved had properly prepared their land for the potential of wildfire, including building with fire resistant materials as well as preparing defensible, fuel-minimized spaces in the areas surrounding the structure." Credit: Matt Slaby/Luceo 

Above: "The wreckage of a burned structure sits near a surviving home after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder, Colorado. The 7,000 acre fire claimed nearly 170 houses in the first days of the blaze. Several of the houses that were saved had properly prepared their land for the potential of wildfire, including building with fire resistant materials as well as preparing defensible, fuel-minimized spaces in the areas surrounding the structure." Credit: Matt Slaby/Luceo