Big Isle could see heavy blaze season

t has been raining quite a bit lately with some snow even falling on Mauna Kea’s summit this month, but that means little when it comes to the Big Island’s fire season.

“We are expecting a dry summer even though we’ve been seeing a lot of rain recently in West Hawaii and islandwide. We are still below normal rainfall amounts and the trends have given the indication we could see more intense, active burning,” Hawaii Fire Department Chief Darryl Oliveira said Wednesday. “Unfortunately all of the rainfall we saw leads to an increase in vegetation growth and a substantial fuel load that has the potential to dry out. We are going to need the public to help out this season.”

Oliveira, who will retire in August, said he hopes community members and businesses will take the proper steps to protect themselves and others for the upcoming season. Oliveira also provided hints on how to prevent and handle a fire.

“The best advice we have is to always be cautious and see everyday, unless it’s raining, as a potential brush fire day,” he said.

Summer is the perfect time to get both your yard and home ready for the upcoming dry season, Oliveira said. People should take care to ensure any accumulated greenwaste is removed from yards and, perhaps, trade in such plants as pine and kiawe trees for succulent plants or vegetation that holds more water and is less likely to fuel a blaze, he said.

Oliveira also warned people who dump greenwaste over their yard’s boundary onto vacant land that they are putting themselves and others at risk because they are creating a fuel load very close to their home.

“It’s a big problem because now you’ve created the potential for a very hot fire