Fire threat heightened as drought extends into summer months


Summer is almost here and it could be a busy season for firefighters, especially with parts of the state dealing with severe drought.

Hawaii has already had more than 10,000 acres of land burned this year and experts say we are nowhere close to being in the clear.

“The fire was coming that way then it came down the hill,” said Nanakuli resident Joseph Momoa.

In March, a Nanakuli brush fire burned more than 2,500 acres. The fire stopped right behind Momoa’s home.

“I have been preparing for it for years now,” said Momoa. “Ever since I moved in there, I could see the vision that it was going to burn soon.”

The good news is no homes or people were harmed in the Nanakuli fire. The bad news is months of drought have left much of the state dry and in prime condition for the possibility of more fires.

“This drought is firmly in place in the state right now and we are confident that this drought is going to intensify through the summer months,” said National Weather Service lead forecaster Derek Wroe.

So far this year, 10,865 acres of land have burned in Hawaii, which is more than double the land burned in all of 2015.

“Historically, drought induced by El Nino episodes like the one we have right now have led to large increases in the fires and acreage burned,” said Wroe.

So how can you prepare?

Clear all leaves and debris as well as any combustibles away from your home, anything that is a fuel source can help spread fire. Also, make sure to clear a 30-foot buffer zone around your house and have an evacuation plan.

Experts say about 99 percent of fires in Hawaii are caused by people.

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