As Hawaii heads into drier conditions, what can residents do to protect home, family from wildfires?

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The National Weather Service expects temperatures in Hawaii to be near or even slightly below normal for summer 2021. But as the state heads into a dry season, residents are reminded to be mindful. The Honolulu Fire Department says over 98% of wildfires are caused by humans.

Hawaii has seen its fair share of devastating wildfires. Recently, a raging wildland fire near the Maili Pillbox Trail in Waianae burned about eight acres. While firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to government buildings and homes that were just 200 yards away, wind and heat didn’t help.

So what’s the forecast like this summer? Temperature-wise, officials expect it to be close to normal.

“The water temperatures off to the East and Northeast of the islands are cooler than normal right now because as our trade winds move from East to West, it’s blowing across that cooler water,” said Jon Jelsema, Senior Forecaster at the National Weather Service in Manoa.

But this year’s dry season extends into October.

“We do expect that the drought will worsen through the summer. Particularly in Leeward areas,” said Jelsema.

“Families who live close to the mountains, we hold our breath during the summer and for Waianae Coast, it’s a very dry area,” said Nanakuli resident and Neighborhood Board Chair Patty Kahanamoku-Teruya.

Kahanamoku-Teruya said she and her neighbors had a close call with a brush fire.

“It was back in 2018 or 2019, our homestead in Nanakuli, it was right across the street of our homestead, and that mountain it really was hot. It went on fire,” she shared.

According to HFD, residents can be prepared this season by:

  • Creating at least a 30-foot safety zone around your house by removing brush.
  • Storing flammable materials safely away from the outside of your home.
  • Reporting suspicious activity before, during or after a fire.

As Hawaii heads into a dry season, Kahanamoku-Teruya said she’s hoping for a change in attitude.

“It’s important for the community of the Waianae Coast to be taking care of our aina and making sure these brush fires don’t happen along our coast,” she said.

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