HONOLULU (KHON2) — After the devastating wildfires on Maui, everyone is now very aware of how dangerous fires can be. We now want to learn not only how we can prevent them from happening, but also why they are happening more frequently in the U.S.

George Geissler, a Washington State forester joined Wake Up 2Day, to talk about all things wildfires.

Because there have been a lot of fires recently, the Smokey the Bear organization said it is important to help people understand wildfires better.

Smokey the Bear has been around for 80 years and people are used to associating him with wildfire prevention.

Geissler thinks wildfires are getting worse and the most important concern is that 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans.

That is a huge percentage that is mostly preventable.

Sometimes it could be something simple such as a lawn mower hitting a rock over very dry grass which causes a fire.

When it comes to preventing wildfires, if people paid a little more attention to how they handle hot items, especially during drought periods, we could reduce the chance for dangerous wildfires becoming a problem.

To help prevent wildfires:

  • Be sure your campfire is completely out before you leave
  • Don’t throw a hot grill into the grass
  • Don’t park your car over dry grass
  • Don’t throw cigarettes into the grass.

Of course there are many other ways that humans start fires but the key is to be very careful with anything that is hot or can cause a spark.

Some wildfires are actually good. Firefighters can strategically do controlled burns over certain areas. This can help provide areas that are barriers around populated areas so a wildfire outside of the perimeter cannot get into populated areas. They can also do controlled burns to get rid of very dry vegetation, so it doesn’t not provide the fuel for a wildfire.

To learn more, visit Smokey Bear’s website.