Some 225 Brush Fires Have Burned on Oahu So Far This Year

By Omaye, Jayna | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, July 9, 2015 | Go to article overview

Some 225 Brush Fires Have Burned on Oahu So Far This Year


Omaye, Jayna, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

A firefighter mopped up after a fire on the ridge behind Mokiawe Street in Nanakuli on Wednesday. The Honolulu Fire Department responded to the blaze at 1:44 p.m. Leeward Oahu is especially at risk for fire, with HFD data showing that from January last year, more than 100 occurred in Waianae, about 50 in Kapolei and nearly 40 in Waipahu.

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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

A brush fire above homes in the Nanakuli Homestead area scorched about 8 acres Wednesday afternoon, according to a Honolulu Fire Department spokesman. The fire was contained at 3:40 p.m., HFD Capt. David Jenkins said. No injuries were reported and no homes were damaged. Twelve companies with about 30 personnel responded to the scene, near the 89-300 block of Mokiawe Street, at 1:44 p.m. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

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STAR-ADVERTISER

Firefighters on Oahu have responded to almost as many brush fires this year as in all of 2014.

Since January, the Honolulu Fire Department has handled 225 brush, wildland or grass fires, compared with a total of 230 last year, according to data through Wednesday.

But those figures are still lower than 2013, when the department reported 302 brush fires.

The majority of fires in 2014 occurred between April and September. This year, May racked up the highest number of brush fires so far at 54, while July totaled the most last year with 41.

Fire Capt. David Jenkins said there are several factors that contribute to the number of brush fires in any given year, including weather, population growth and land conditions.

"We want people to be on the lookout year-round, islandwide," Jenkins said. "We don't want people to relax."

In the past five years, more than 9,000 acres on Oahu have burned in nearly 2,000 wildland fires, HFD reported. The department has used 50,000 firefighter hours to fight the blazes.

The causes of all but one of the brush fires reported from January of last year were undetermined.

The National Fire Protection Association found that between 2007 and 2011, local fire departments responded to an average of about 334,200 brush, grass and forest fires per year. One in five of those fires was set intentionally.

Residents can help prevent and prepare for brush fires by removing flammable materials within 30 feet of homes, pruning trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground, and creating and practicing a family evacuation plan, according to HFD.

Pablo Beimler, education and outreach coordinator of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said tossing cigarette butts on the ground or the heat from a car parked near or on top of dry grass could trigger a fire. …

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