Number of Oahu brush fires drastically cut due to wet summer

Thanks to the visits of tropical storms in Hawaii this year, an unusually wet summer has drastically cut down the number of brush fires on Oahu.

According to the Honolulu Fire Department, there were 93 wildland fires from June through August two years ago, 101 last year, and only 41 this year. Two years ago, 43 acres burned, more than 1,200 last year, and this summer — less than half an acre.

With everything right now looking so green, it looks like we could be in for more rainy weather for the rest of the year.

Head out to Leeward Oahu and you will see green, lush vegetation all around in the areas that are normally brown and dry at this time of the year.

Kevin Kodama of the National Weather Service tells us this has been one wet summer. “We’ve had several of those in the past couple of months. In addition to the direct hit from Darby and the close approach of Madeline, we’ve had other remnants come by and produce heavy rains.”

It’s been a blessing for Honolulu firefighters who usually have to battle brush fires almost constantly during the hot summer months — at times going back to the same hot spots for days, trying to beat back flames that have spread for hundreds of acres.

But the fire department cautions residents near fire prone areas not to let down their guard. “Sooner or later, it will be a dry season, and all that brush will turn into fuel,” Capt. David Jenkins said. “It will dry up and become a hazard at some point.”

So those residents are still asked to keep a 30-foot perimeter around their homes clear of brush to stay safe. And families are asked to have evacuation plans.

“There’s always potential for brush fires and homes being damaged and people being threatened and we always want people to be ever vigilant,” Jenkins said.

The National Weather Service tells us that the wet season will likely continue through early next year. The La Nina conditions have backed off and we are now facing a more neutral climate ahead, which means more wet weather.

“Does that mean flooding concerns then?” we asked. “Oh yeah, normally October through April is when we have more flash floods anyway,” Kodama said, “and there’s a potential that we might be wetter than what we normally would expect.”

Due to the wet weather, Hawaii Island is now drought free. There are still, however, drought conditions in parts of Kauai and Maui.

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