(BIVN) – State officials are warning that Hawai‘i fire danger is currently high across the state and will remain so until normal winter precipitation sets in.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources says the state has experienced persistent and worsening drought conditions since July, with wildfire activity ramping up over the last month. “Unlike most of the U.S., fire season in Hawai‘i is year around,” DLNR wrote in a media advisory. “Residents and visitors are urged to prevent fire ignitions from starting: be careful with equipment that may spark, do not park or idle cars on dry grass, and completely extinguish all campfires.”
“Also, a wildfire can quickly turn into a subdivision fire, such as the recent and devastating wildfires in California and other states,” DLNR stated. “This can happen in Hawai‘i too, but residents can take action to protect their homes and prevent the spread of fire.”
DLNR says you can reduce the chance of home ignition by:
- using noncombustible ground covers (e.g., gravel, brick) within 5 feet of your house
- maintaining 6 inches of clearance between siding and the ground
- clearing debris from your roof and gutters
- using noncombustible building materials where possible.
Residents can also make conditions safer for firefighters by creating ‘defensible space’ within 30 feet of your home “by trimming overgrown grass and shrubs, pruning tree branches that hang low to the ground or over your house, and clearing debris piles and other combustible materials,” DLNR says. “Have a family evacuation plan and practice it.”
Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator Talmadge Magno recently sat down for an interview with Sherry Bracken, and the two talked about Big Island readiness, especially in light of the California wildfires that have claimed 42 lives, destroyed nearly 7,000 buildings, and caused over $1 billion in property damage.
“There are different communities that are at risk, more fire prone areas,” Magno said of places like Waikoloa, for example. He urged residents to “make sure your evacuation kits are together, try to minimize the fire danger on your house, have defensible spaces.”
And if the time comes to evacuate, “you don’t want to be lugging a bunch of stuff – so you’re gonna have to make some decisions as to what you truly need,” Magno said, adding that if you live in such a fire-prone environment, “you might want to store stuff elsewhere. Just think of what you need, say, if your home would burn down, what would you need to move on, to survive to get things replaced. Insurance papers or whatever documents you need.”