Hawaiʻi County officials urge awareness, preparedness in wake of wildfires

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The Lāhainā Fire that has devastated the historic Maui community is the deadliest wildfire in the past 100 years in the United States. There were 99 confirmed dead as of the latest Maui County update Tuesday morning. The crisis is ongoing.

A brush fire burns during the early morning hours of Aug. 8 near Kohala Ranch in North Kohala on the Big Island. (File photo courtesy of Hawaiʻi state Sen. Tim Richards)

In light of that tragedy and recent wildfires on the Big Island, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth and Hawai’i Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd urge the island’s community to prioritize fire safety awareness and preparedness. Fire safety is a collective responsibility, and everyone has a kuleana (responsibility) to take proactive measures to mitigate wildfire risks in their residences and neighborhoods.

By adhering to key fire safety practices, people can substantially diminish the potential impact of wildfires.

Here are several fundamental steps for residents to consider:

  • Adopt Firewise practices: Establishing a defensible space around your residence, which entails maintaining a safe distance between trees, shrubs and other flammable vegetation, can drastically curtail the spread of fires to your property. For comprehensive guidance on Firewise practices, refer to the resources available on the Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization website.
  • Reduce waste and flammable items: Proper disposal of waste and the removal of flammable items around your property are pivotal in averting accidental fires. Residents should securely store firewood, propane tanks and other combustible materials away from their homes and structures.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms: Ensuring the installation of smoke alarms on each floor of your home and conducting monthly tests are imperative. Batteries should be replaced as needed to guarantee optimal functionality.
  • Create and practice a family emergency plan: The creation and regular rehearsal of a family escape plan, complete with two exit routes from every room and a designated outdoor meeting point, are vital components of comprehensive fire preparedness.
  • Stay informed and educated: Residents are encouraged to access additional resources, tips and information related to fire safety and preparedness on the Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization website and the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense website. To receive real-time emergency alerts and updates, people can sign up for the Everbridge notification system.

“The recent events weigh heavy on our hearts and serve as poignant reminders of the profound impact that wildfires can have on our communities,” Roth said. “We have seen how quickly the fires devastated Maui and truly believe that a unified community effort can yield meaningful results in safeguarding homes, families and our ‘āina.”

The County encourages all of of the Big Island’s residents to take advantage of this guidance for everyone’s safety.

For more information or assistance, residents can reach out to the Hawaiʻi Fire Department or explore the online resources above.



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