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Prepare for growing wildfire risk

By Staff | Jun 18, 2021

Firefighting agencies statewide recently kicked off the annual Wildfire & Drought LOOKOUT! awareness campaign.

The announcement came as the Big Island experienced a 1,400-acre brush fire that swept through former sugar cane fields in Pa’auilo on June 4.

It’s also relevant to note that West Maui is “abnormally dry” and Maalaea is in “moderate drought,” according to a June 10 check of Hawaii’s U.S. Drought Monitor Map.

Firefighters want communities and individuals to be prepared for what’s expected to be an especially active summer and fall fire season.

“Based on forecasts, we are in for a particularly dry year, which is an issue for us on the Big Island and the rest of the state as well,” said Hawaii County Fire Chief Kazuo Todd.

As in all western states, Hawaii no longer has a set fire season. It’s now year-round but predominately from early summer to late fall, when rainfall is historically lower.

This phenomenon is one reason the Hawaii State Legislature has pumped millions of dollars into the state’s firefighting arsenal over the past few years.

“The more proactive we are as individuals, as home and property owners, the better,” said Nani Barretto of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization.

“Our messages about fire safety are more necessary now than ever. It’s important to look at what’s going on within your own neighborhood, your own community, your own property and making sure you’re not doing anything to contribute to the spread of wildfires.”

For wildfire tips and details on how to become “Firewise,” go to www.hawaiiwildfire.org.