History of Fire

Over the past decade, Hawai‘i has experienced an average of >1,000 ignitions burning >20,000 acres (8,000 ha) each year across the main inhabited islands.  Fire response agencies are able to contain 90% of wildfire ignitions to less than one acre in size, but large fires (>1000 acres) have occurred on all islands, and happen multiple times each year across the state. 

Wildfire Threats and Impacts

Nearly all fires in Hawai`i are human-caused and they often pose threats to communities and natural and cultural resources.  Having evolved in the absence of frequent fires, Hawai`i’s native ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to fire disturbance, which is often associated with the spread and establishment of nonnative grass and shrub species.

Wildfire Drivers

The primary drivers of fire occurrence are: frequent, mostly human-caused ignitions; expansion of nonnative, fire-prone grasslands and shrublands over c. 25% of state land area; and strong rain shadow effects and episodic drought create which create year-round fire weather.

Statewide Wildfire Ignitions (2016)
Wildfire In Hawai‘i Fact Sheet

Recent Resources For Hawai‘i

Presentation: Overview of the Pacific Islands Institute of Forestry (IPIF)

October 18, 2022

Dr. Susan Cordell presents the history, the work, the geographic scope and current contributions of the USDA’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF) based in Hilo, Hawai`i (10 MINS) Tuesday,…

Weed Fire Risk Assessment for Hawai`i: Database, Factsheet & Webinar

July 24, 2022

Methodology of weed fire risk assessments. University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Kevin Faccenda and Curt Daehler developed a screening system focused on wildfire risk by asking land managers to assign a relative fire…

Webinar: When Climate Change and Invasive Species Intersect

May 22, 2022

Tuesday, March 22, 2022 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Who: University of Hawaiʻi’s Kevin Faccenda and Kelsey Brock will present “Identifying Fire-Promoting Invasive Plants & Their Potential to Impact Hawai`i’s Natural…