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State warns of increased risks for wildfires during dry summer months

Both lanes of Highway 19 in Paauilo are shut down because of a brush fire.
Both lanes of Highway 19 in Paauilo are shut down because of a brush fire.(Darde Gamayo)
Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 2:34 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 2:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A brush fire that scorched 1,400 acres on Hawaii Island Friday is highlighting the importance of preparing for wildfire season, state officials say.

The Paauilo fire happened along the Hamakua Coast, and took crews days to contain.

Hawaii County’s Fire Chief says this year could be particularly bad, with lots of brush that’s built up over the last few years.

And with an unusually wet start to the year, brush that grew as a result of the rains is now drying out, presenting added fire risks. According to the state, 68% of land across Hawaii is considered abnormally dry.

“We’re starting to move into the dry season and we’ve been having basically about four years of wet season, so we have a lot of brush that’s built up over the last four years that has kind of been prime to be an issue this coming year,” Hawaii County Fire Chief Kazuo Todd said.

“We’re looking at, as far as our weather reports go, a particularly dry year which could be an issue for fires on the Big Island and in the rest of the state as well,” Todd added.

According to the state, most wild fires are sparked by human causes. When out and about, ensure hot embers from grills are fully put out and disposed of properly, and same goes for cigarettes.

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