How to keep your property safe as brush fire season approaches

Local News

We will likely be seeing more brush fires as we head into the summer season, and the Honolulu Fire Department is warning home and property owners, especially if they live near brush to prepare.

Residents whose homes were threatened by a brush fire two years ago say they’re taking more precautions now in case it happens again. The brush fire came within feet of some homes on Oawa Street in Makakilo. 

Since then, property owners say they have worked to keep weeds and brush down to a minimum.

“Obviously the property is big so I wont be able to do everything but just close enough to the property or to the house,” said Makakilo resident Ronald Cabuhat. “I just weed whack it. That’s it, and I just clean up the debris.”

He says that since it’s been getting hotter, they’ve been doing more upkeep. 

“We’re more cautious around this time because it’s hotter or unusually windy days, we’re more cautious,” said Cabuhat.

Captain Scot Seguirant with the Honolulu Fire Department says now is the time to start preparing your property if you haven’t already.

“It’s a lot more warm, as we’ve had this week. It ends up drying out. We get a lot of brown vegetation. It’s not as green. It’s more easily ignited,” said Seguirant.

Seguirant recommends clearing your backyard and roof from anything ignitable like dry leaves. Pruning or cutting off tree branches in your yard six to ten feet off the ground so they will be much harder to catch fire. If you live near an open area with brush, cutting it back at least 30 feet.

“If you’re able to cut it back and remove that hazard, now you can rest easy and you can feel better that, ‘Eh if this happens, it’s not gonna affect me as bad,'” said Seguirant.

He also recommends setting up a contact system with your neighbors, so if a fire breaks out near your home and you’re not there, they can alert you to what’s happening.

Cabuhat says their neighborhood uses the Next Door app.

“Someone noticed a large smoke coming from our area, and then my neighbors notified me,” said Cabuhat.

He says he and his wife were able to coordinate a plan after that.

An additional tip Seguirant shared include adding a wire mesh to air vents if you have a air conditioner system that leads outside. He says this mesh can help prevent a stray ember from entering your home and igniting a fire.

He says to clear combustible items from your home and to remove any cluttered items outside your house like storage boxes because they can catch fire easily and spread that fire to your home.

Finally, he encourages everyone to make an evacuation plan.

As for people who may be using fire for barbeques or other reasons, he says to make sure the fire is put out cold and can’t spread.

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