Raising public awareness of current fire danger is critical because proactive actions by households and landowners can reduce fire risk and because most fires on Pacific Islands are human-caused. In Hawaii, PFX partner organizations are developing a 'Wildfire and Drought Lookout' campaign to provide public information on wildfire risk reduction and wildfire-related stories to the local media.
Hawaii news agencies appear ready to get the word out. Multiple outlets ran stories of the research on Hawaii's fire history by PFX partners and the high fire danger forecast with the El Niño-driven drought:
Weeks later, three large fires in put wildfire back on the front pages. The Kahikinui fire burned >5,000 acres on the south slope of Haleakala on Maui in February. In March, a 2,500 acre fire scorched nearly all of Nanakuli Valley on Oahu while days later, firefighters on Hawaii Island contained a 1,800 acre fire near Pu'u Wa'awa'a.
'Well Before Summer, State Exceeds Budget for Fighting Wildfires' - Hawaii News Now TV clip - 3/21/16
'Hidden Victims of the Nanakuli Fire' - Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources news clip - 3/28/16
The drought is forecast to persist across our region through the summer. The goal of the interagency Wildfire and Drought Lookout! campaign is not only to raise awareness about the vulnerability of our communities and natural resources to wildfire impacts but, more importantly, the inform people about the actions they can take to reduce wildfire risk.