Community forming new group dedicated to fire safety protection
LAHAINA – It’s hurricane/fire season, West Maui. Are we prepared?
Last year was one for the record books. In August, Hurricane Lane scored an unexpected hit, raining fire from the sky.
No matter where you were on the West Side that morning, the threat was looming large.
Yolanda Dizon lost her home in the early morning hours of Aug. 24. For her family and others living in Kaua’ula Valley, it was a run-for-your-life situation. Homes were lost; memories turned to ash. Thankfully, all human lives were spared.
Slowly, valley residents are rebuilding and returning to their kuleana.
Dizon’s home is in the final stages of construction. Although it’s been ten months since the fire, she doesn’t feel safe going home to their family land and neither do her children or grandchildren.
“I have so many questions that have not been answered,” Yolanda explained.
“First, we had to prod the Fire Prevention Bureau to do their job,” she said. “We sent them 14 Fire Report Incident Request Forms before they issued an Investigative Report on December 10.”
“The report was inadequate,” she said, “and we want to share it with the community along with correspondence I have sent to the Department of Fire & Public Safety and the Fire Public Safety Commission.”
Dizon was emphatic. “This is not just about Kaua’ula and Launiupoko. We were this close to losing Lahaina. There were double-evacuations. Some people did not know where to go. We need to learn from this emergency experience, so we can move forward together safely and with knowledge.”
“With several brush fires reported recently, it is important to act now.”
Yolanda is working with her son, David, and his wife, Samantha, to form a West Maui fire safety protection league.
It’s in the infancy stages, but their mission statement is all encompassing.
“As West Maui is connected from the mountains to the ocean and from Ukumehame to Honokohau, we strive at all times to maintain a fire-safe community through transparency and education in collaboration with our fire department, utilizing the most up-to-date fire preventative, firefighting and fire investigative methods available globally.”
Samantha will be launching a Facebook page in early August.
“All are invited to participate; but, first, we need a name,” she advised.
“We want this organization to be truly West Maui from its naming onward. Please help us – submit your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Fire Investigative Report and the Dizon correspondence with county officials will eventually be posted on the soon-to-be named Facebook page; however, in the meantime, copies are currently available on request at the g-mail address.
“Remember,” Yolanda stressed, “The connection is real. We are all in this together through rain, wind and fire.”