Wildfire season just around the corner

Published  4:46 PM HST May 29, 2013
Fire
HONOLULU -

Hard to fathom after driving up the Pali, but the dry season is not far off. As the lush vegetation starts to go brown, it becomes fuel for a wildfire.

Fire officials say the recent heavy rains have delayed the season, but by June they'll be geared up and ready to fight the flames. They want people to know wildfires rarely start themselves, it's usually people, even if it's an accident.
 
"Embers will go for hundreds of yards if they are large enough. It doesn't take much to get good fuel started," said Chief Fletcher Dahman with the Federal Fire Department.

That means think twice before you flick a cigarette butt, because it can start an entire wildfire. Firefighters think this season might be quieter than last, but the last season was pretty large. There were almost 430 wildfires the Honolulu Fire Department had to battle, leaving behind permanent damage.

"All the soil washes away with the rain or the strong winds and ends up in our marine environment down in the ocean. That messes up our ocean," said Roger Imoto, Division of forestry with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

That is why it is so important to catch any would-be arsonists. This year, the Honolulu police are training detectives as arson investigators. If fires are intentionally set, the arson fine is up to $10,000 and five years in jail. But, the police need you to help out as well.

"If your property is affected by wildfire, now is the time to take defensive action clearing out vegetation that may have grown in the last couple of months due to rainfall," said Derek Wroe, NOAA meterologist.  

Less fuel, less fire. Fire officials also advise resident to plan several escape routes from the home, and to create at least a 30-foot safety zone around the house.

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