(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi island officials are urging the community to prioritize fire safety awareness and preparedness, as Maui struggles to recover from the inferno that left Lāhainā in ashes.
Mayor Mitch Roth and Hawaiʻi Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd on Monday issued a news release, saying “all individuals have a kuleana to take proactive measures to mitigate wildfire risks in their residences and neighborhoods”, and “by adhering to key fire safety practices, individuals can substantially diminish the potential impact of wildfires.”
“The recent events weigh heavy on our hearts and serve as poignant reminders of the profound impact that wildfires can have on our communities,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “We have seen how quickly the fires devastated Maui and truly believe that a unified community effort can yield meaningful results in safeguarding homes, families, and our ‘āina. We have the privilege of working toward prevention, and we encourage all of our residents to take advantage of this guidance for the safety of us all.”
The Maui fires were spread by high winds that were generated, in part, by passing Hurricane Dora far to the south.
There are currently two named storms in the Pacific. Tropical Storm Greg is 850 miles southeast of Hilo, and Hurricane Fernanda is 2,185 miles east of Hilo.
“The trades are expected to strengthen and hold at breezy levels Tuesday through Thursday as the pressure gradient tightens in response to a strengthening high far north of the state and Tropical Storm Greg passing westward well to the south of the island chain,” the National Weather Service said on Tuesday morning. “Despite the modest increase in trade wind speeds, we are not expecting anything nearly as strong as the winds that were experienced when Hurricane Dora passed well south of the islands last week. This time, the high pressure system will be displaced much farther north, inversion heights will not be as low, and Tropical Storm Greg will be a much weaker system.”
Fernanda is expected to weaken as it moves west. The National Hurricane Center forecasts the system will be devoid of convection in about 60 hours. “A round of increased moisture associated with the remnants of what is currently Hurricane Fernanda could increase trade wind showers late Sunday into early next week,” the National Weather Service added.
Mayor Roth and Chief Todd offered these “fundamental steps” for residents to consider:
Adopt Firewise Practices: Establishing a defensible space around your residence, which entails maintaining a safe distance between trees, shrubs, and other flammable vegetation, can drastically curtail the spread of fires to your property. For comprehensive guidance on Firewise practices, please refer to the resources available on the Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) webpage.
Reduce Waste and Flammable Items: Proper disposal of waste and the removal of flammable items around your property are pivotal in averting accidental fires. Residents are advised to securely store firewood, propane tanks, and other combustible materials away from their homes and structures.
Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms: Ensuring the installation of smoke alarms on each floor of your home and conducting monthly tests are imperative. Batteries should be replaced as needed to guarantee optimal functionality.
Create and Practice a Family Emergency Plan: The creation and regular rehearsal of a family escape plan, complete with two exit routes from every room and a designated outdoor meeting point, are vital components of comprehensive fire preparedness.
Stay Informed and Educated: Residents are encouraged to access additional resources, tips, and information related to fire safety and preparedness on the HWMO webpage and the Civil Defense website. To receive real-time Hawaiʻi County emergency alerts and updates, individuals can sign up for the Everbridge notification system.
Following the fire on Maui, at least 99 people have been confirmed dead, according to the most recent official count, with 25% of the area searched.