USA – It’s apparent there’s been quite a lot of brush fires in recent weeks on Oahu and across the state.
Drier conditions are keeping firefighters on edge this summer season as the smallest spark could ignite a raging brush fire.
And records show that 2018 has already blazed past previous years in regards to the number of fires sparked and the size of wildfires.
Combined, more than 30,000 acres total across Hawaii have been blackened by wildfires this year alone. That’s compared to 2017 where nearly 7,700 acres were burned, according to the Pacific Fire Exchange’s 2017 wildfire summary.
Capt. Scot Seguirant with the Honolulu Fire Department says from June to Aug. 15, firefighters received exactly 200 calls for reports of brush fires around Oahu.
That’s a significant spike from the last three years. In 2017, there were 126 calls; 2016 had just 83, and 2015 saw 110 calls.
Some of the fires this year — the west side brush fires and one near Ka Makana Alii in Kapolei — are suspected to be arson.
The wildfires are putting a strain on firefighting resources in the form of added costs and exhausting manpower. [Click to read more: Recent wildfires burn through state’s fire response budget]
On Hawaii Island, 30 firefighters were flown in from the mainland earlier this month to help combat a wildfire that ignited on the slopes of Mauna Loa. More than 3,700 acres were burned and natural forests reserves were hurt.
Fire officials say everyone can do their part to prevent fires and reduce the risk of a massive blaze.
Capt. Seguirant says the easiest way to reduce the risk is by maintaining homes and yards in dry summer months, and keeping brush trimmed back. It’s also important to clear porches, gutters and declutter outdoor spaces.
“Just remove any wood piles, lumber, anything that can actually catch on fire,” he said. “You want to make sure you put those things away. Trim back your fire break. Make sure there’s 10 to 30 feet of cleared brush between your home.”
Falling embers could land and could spark a fire, he said. While grilling outdoors, ensure proper safety precautions are in place and there is no dry brush around. Dispose of hot coal properly, in fire-safe bins provided at many county parks.
HFD also reminds everyone to have an emergency evacuation kit and a plan ready just in case wildfires threaten homes.
“Be ready to evacuate. Get your ‘Go Bag.’ When you get the call to quickly leave, at that point, belongings and material things can be replaced,” Capt. Seguirant said.
He says before evacuating, secure your home by locking doors and closing windows to prevent embers from entering the house, and possibly causing your home to go up in flames.
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