Maui News

Fire Safety Tips For the Dry Season

July 17, 2019, 9:16 AM HST
* Updated July 17, 1:11 PM
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The brushfires which burned 9,200 acres throughout Central/South Maui and Puʻunēnē last week have been contained but are not yet fully extinguished according to Maui fire officials.

The Maui Police Department continues to their arson investigation into both fires and have arrested a 28-year-old suspect in the case of the larger fire, which began near Waiko Road. In the meantime there is still plenty of dry brush everywhere and very little rain coming this way. Although the National Weather Service shows scattered and isolated showers through the week it won’t be much.

“Not a great deal, just tradewind showers passing through,” said NWS Meteorologist Jerome Saucier. “Nothing substantial at all really.”

For that reason the Maui County Department of Fire & Public Safety urges residents to take a look around to see how they can better protect their neighborhoods from the threat of brushfires. The prevention awareness extends from the backyard to anywhere people go where they could spark another blaze.

“It’s still dry and the wind is blowing so awareness is everything right now to help prevent the next fire,” said Fire Services Chief Rylan Yatsushiro.

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Yatsushiro said the best collection of safety tips can be found at the Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization, which works with county, state and federal partners to prevent the loss of natural areas due to fires. The first tip featured is this one:

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“Ninety-nine percent of wildfires in Hawaiʻi are caused by people, both by accident and arson … call 911 to report a wildfire or suspicious activity.”

Other tips from the website include:

– clearing vegetation around campfires and BBQ’s and keeping water and a shovel nearby. Afterwards make sure fires are out COLD before leaving the area.

  • – make sure chainsaws and weed trimmers and other machinery have operating spark regulators which are maintained regularly.
  • – heat from vehicle exhaust systems can ignite dry grass, so park cars on pavement or an area where vegetation is trimmed and cleared.
  • – stick to public fireworks displays to maximize safety and fire protection
  • – clear debris from gutters and rooftops, keep tree branches high off the ground, clear brush and leaf piles, keep grass short and create a “defensible space within 100 feet of your home or up to a boundary line.”
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“That just means to look beyond your property and to clear all vegetation and/or any material at risk of burning that could potentially bring the fire to your doorstep,” Yatsushiro said. “Doesn’t have to be down to the dirt, just make sure it’s maintained.”

For more information about fire safety for your home and how to make an escape plan, visit the department’s Fire Safety Information page on the Maui County website.

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