The Origin of the Hawaii Fires/Preventing a Similar Tragedy in the Future

From the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Cliff Mass

The terrible fires around Lahaina, Maui have resulted in a death toll of 67 (which will certainly rise) and an economic loss of billions of dollars.

We can take steps to prevent this from happening again, including understanding why this event occurred and building the observation, warning, and action infrastructure as California.

Why did this event occur?

The origin of this disaster is now becoming clear:  massive amounts of dry, dead fuel (mainly grass), strong downslope winds produced by strong trades interacting with local mountains, and human ignition, most probably from powerlines.

Dry grass and shrubs

Maui was a tinderbox ready to burn explosively.  As noted in a number of articles and Hawaiian government websites, a large portion of Hawaii is covered by highly flammable, invasive, non-native grasses.

Flying into Maui in late June.  

Dry grass everywhere (looking north along the West Coast of Maui)Western Maui is typically wet in the winter and quite dry (and warm) during summer (see plot for a station near and north of Lahaina).  Grass grows during the winter and then dies/cures during the summer, leaving brown desiccated grass.  This is not climate change…this is the normal situation.

This year the winter was particularly wet, enhancing Maui grass volume,  followed by a dry summer.  A huge supply of dead fuel was ready to burn.

There has been a lot of talk in the media about drought and even “flash drought” driven by climate change (see Seattle Times headline below).  This is all silly and irrelevant.  The opposite of drought last winter resulted in lots of grass and even a normal summer would have resulted in the grass ready to burn now.  

Also important is that the grasses are  1-10hr fuels that dry within hours under the proper conditions (low relative humidity, winds, sun).  The conditions earlier this week were optimal for drying with warm, dry, downslope flow.  The grasses could have been drenched a few days before and burned under such conditions.  Climate change is irrelevant in this situation.

The Winds

Lahaina was hit by powerful winds, with gusts exceeding 60 mph.   Winds that provided oxygen to the fires, pushed the fire quickly forward, and downed powerlines, helping spark the fires.  

There is a lot of talk about the winds coming from hurricane Dora, which passed 800 km to the south of Hawaii (see satellite image below).  

The winds that hit Lahaina were NOT hurricane winds.

The winds that helped destroy Lahaina were caused by strong trade winds, produced mainly by enhanced high pressure to the north, interacting with Maui terrain to produce strong/dry downslope winds.  

These were localized strong winds that amazingly were well predicted by the NOAA HRRR model and others.

Hurricane Dora was a small storm that passed well south of Hawaii. The strong winds of the hurricane did not significantly affect Hawaii as some claim.

NOAA map of the path of strong winds from Hurricane Dora

During the last day UW Research Scientist David Ovens, a member of my research group, ran the WRF weather prediction model at high resolution for this case.

The results are stunning.  Below is the 27h forecast of wind gusts at 8 PM PDT on Tuesday, Aug. 8th.  Gusts to around 65 knots (75 mph)  around Lahaina  (color shading).  Pressure is also shown as are the wind vectors.  A life-threatening prediction.

Moderate winds approached the mountains of West Maui and then accelerated down the western slopes of the terrain.  A stable near crest level assisted.

Strong winds were also observed over central Maui west of Haleakala volcano:  more grassfires occurred there.

Let me repeat:  these were NOT hurricane winds but local downslope wind accelerations, produced by the occurrence of perfect meteorological conditions, something I will review in a future blog.

An analog to such wind acceleration is the strong winds that can occur in Enumclaw, Black Diamond, and North Bend, Washington under strong easterly (from the east) flow.


Although little information has been forthcoming on this point, the ignition had to be human-caused, since there was no lightning in the area.  Considering the massive wind damage to electric infrastructure, with reports of fallen and sparking powerlines,  it is quite probable that the strong winds caused the ignitions that started the fires.

We Can Make Sure This Never Happens Again

First,  it is essential the actual causes of the fire be understood (extensive dry grass, strong local winds), not climate change and “flash droughts.”   Only a science-based, rigorous understanding of the wildfire’s origins can lead to a better outcome in the future.  Incorrect, politized explanations work directly against solving the problem.

Second, many more wind observations are needed.  The weather observing network on Maui and particularly western Maui is totally inadequate, as shown by the map below. 

Virtually no wind observations around Lahaina.  Unbelievable.  Weather observations are critical for understanding the wind threat, to warn the population.  Wind observations foster decisions to de-energize powerlines to prevent ignitions.

California has learned this lesson and has installed thousands of weather observation sites.  Hawaii needs hundreds.

Third, much better use of weather forecast models for warning and decision-making is required.  As shown above, current weather prediction technology is so good that most localized wind threats can be forecast well in advance.

The National Weather Service waited way too long to put out a  Red Flag Warning (9:26 AM on August 8th).   And with the intense winds predicted by the NOAA HRRR model, MUCH more severe warnings should have been made.  NOAA and the State of Hawaii need to work out a comprehensive plan for better warning of such dire threats to life and property.

 Powerline De-energization

Hawaii electric utilities should immediately make plans to turn off the power to threatened areas when strong winds are either observed or predicted.  California and Northwest utilities have already begun this life and pre

The combination of rigorous science, more observations, better use of models, stronger and more aggressive warnings, and powerline de-energization can ensure that a tragedy like this week will never occur again in the Hawaiian Islands.

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August 14, 2023 10:33 pm

While Dora’s winds directly contributed little if anything to wind speed on Maui, the hurricane’s low pressure may well have.

A high pressure system north of the island and a low pressure cyclone south of it might have set up a gradient enhancing downslope wind speed.

IIRC correctly, passing hurricanes have sped up winds in HI in the past.

Ireneusz Palmowski
Reply to  Milo
August 15, 2023 1:30 am

The situation may soon be repeated. It is necessary to be prepared.
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Hawaii remains in a zone of cool and dry northeast winds, as indicated by the negative sea surface anomaly.
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When a hurricane approaches, the pressure differential will suddenly increase.

August 14, 2023 10:43 pm

Looking at satellite photos of Liahaini homes shows the part of town on either side of the Liahaini bypass with homes on small lots packed tightly together. So the urban architecture would seem to lend itself to increased fire risk even if only a small out of control grass fire was upwind of these homes. Maybe land use zoning has to be considered when the town is rebuilt.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  RMoore
August 15, 2023 7:10 am

They should bury their power lines. when they rebuild.

Reply to  RMoore
August 15, 2023 9:00 am

Seeing those same satellite photos of Liahaini why do we talk about wildfires? It is mostly the town that was burned to the ground not the surrounding grassland. But seeing most houses were mostly made out of wood even without a grass fire just a house accidentally on fire would have given us the same result in these conditions . Even Rome burned as have many big cities in the past.

Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2023 11:02 pm

Doesn’t something need to be done about the grass? Growing on previously cultivated land?
The best solution would be encouraging native plants which don’t become fuel for wildfires?
Knowing when non-native grass is going to catch fire isn’t really a solution

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2023 11:55 pm

previously cultivated means sugar cane farms. I dont know who owned the land or farmed it but that industry has gone and the wild grasses or even sugar cane remnants.

Seems to have been a problem for a time . Maui County was the highest risk in a high risk state….yet no one really knew or cared

Australia and maybe other fire prone countries have warning criteria based by fuel loads, the low humidity weather and most importantly the high winds predictions.
This gives an index which might be high most of the drier period and still have days when the fire risk is literally off the charts and those warnings become part of the consciousness

‘. The predicted fire danger was literally off the charts—it exceeded the scale designed to measure it. Premier John Brumby warned that this would be, ‘the worst day in the history of the state’, with conditions even worse than those that preceded the terrible fires of Ash Wednesday (1983) and Black Friday (1939).

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Duker
August 15, 2023 1:31 am

Nailed it perfectly:“”Seems to have been a problem for a time . Maui County was the highest risk in a high risk state….yet no one really knew or cared

  • Those islands are made of fresh (geologically recent) rock
  • That is The Very Best Stuff for plant life to thrive upon…..
  • esp in that warm maritime situation.
  • The natural vegetation there would have been rainforest
  • “”for a time”” refers back to when humans first arrived there
  • There is **nothing** in any tree of use or interest to humans
  • So the forest was chopped…
  • …and used to build (especially) fishing boats but also shelters….
  • ‘shelter’ previously provided by the forest
  • “”no-one knew or cared“” means that those native original Hawaiians did not care either and imagined the forest to be an endless resource
  • i.e. That it would always grow back and that chopping/burning actually ‘encouraged it’. Where have we heard that before? Global haha Greening.
  • They were wrong, the trees did not grow back and they found themselves in the exact same situation as the Easter Islanders
  • The forest would have replaced itself with grasses which the natives would have relentlessly burned in order to cultivate some sort of food and help catch whatever animals there were there. Just. Like. Australia.
  • All the while, the natural rich fertility was washing away into the ocean at humongous rate caused the naturally very high rainfall there….
  • …and that that rain always occurs in thunderstorms just after lunchtime
  • ‘Lunch’ being both unimportant and vastly important to the natives as by then they had nothing to eat and no trees with which to build fishing boats
  • “”for some time“” refers to the arrival of James Cook, twice inside of 12 months and looking for, of all things, a sizeable tree to make a new mast for his ship.
  • Classically he would have sourced, before he set off, a sizeable quality tree in England – but the Little Englanders had chopped and burned all their trees.
  • (So he was forced to look for The North West Passage using a cocktail stick to move his boat along)
  • The human population fell and the grasses were left alone for a while.
  • They did not burn and for a few hundred years, the grasses succeeded in rebuilding some fertile soil on the mountain slopes
  • THEN, somebody noticed that fertile soil and planted some of The Hungriest Plants (apart from Nightshades) that there are on this planet
  • i.e. Sugar Cane
  • Inside a couple of decades that stripped the soils of all the fertility they’d rebuilt since Cook was there
  • So some different grasses ‘invaded’
  • (‘invasion’ has ALL the wrong connotations – the plants know what they’re doing much better than the ever so perfect humans do)
  • But the grasses that did find a (nutritional) niche on the bare mountainsides, still needed a constant flow of (rain) water to keep them fed. The soil was so impoverished. On quality high fertility soil, most plants and esp trees, can exist by ‘drinking the dew‘ ##
  • Otherwise the hungry and near-starvation grasses ‘take a siesta‘ and hunker down while the summer heat is on.
  • They do that by stopping growing, taking on a high albedo appearance and forming a dense ground-hugging mat.
  • That mat deflects the sun, protects their roots, conserves moisture, keeps the soil bacteria alive and protects soil organic matter from sun and wind.

And it was all working quite well until some brain-dead, selfish, lazy and thoughtless muppets came along and did things like this….as attached.
Put up electrical infrastructure and let the wildlife climb up into it

Just fantastic. You built and baited the perfect mousetrap – utterly unaware that you yourselves were = The Mouse
And now, when you find yourself ‘caught’, it’s everybody else’s fault
Yes. The stupid does burn.

As a first remedy that could be up and running by this time next week: and assuming the ground isn’t toooo steep:
Put some cows and or bison out there.
And Leave Them Alone Thereafter.
Not sheep. Not goats.
The cows will rebuild the soil. Then plant some trees where the cows can’t get them.
Be patient, it’s taken thousands of years to get this far and there is no easy or instant fix

Do not be tempted to meddle – because after centuries (when was Hawaii invaded by humans?) and all that time of human ‘science’ and human ‘knowing better’ – that place is on the point of becoming an irrecoverable desert.

  • Just like Easter Island
  • Just like Australia
  • Just like Iceland
  • Just like SW USA
  • Just as Western Europe is becoming
  • Just as the rainforest that is now = Sahara
  • Just as Central China now is = The Gobi Desert
  • Just as the 100’s of miles of sand that were= The Fertile Crescent
  • Let’s hear it for Humans.

## Precisly what they do on the Cambridge (and other) Fens – also slopes of extinct and not so extinct volcanoes.
e.g. In Italy esp around Naples, also Sicily although its days are now numbered.

Hawaii Electric Tree.JPG
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 15, 2023 2:12 am

The natural environment of West Maui, as with the Big Island’s Kona Coast, is not rain forest. West Maui is in the leeward rain shadow. It gets 13 inches of rain a year.

The windward sides of Hawaiian islands get huge amounts of rain. The leeward sides are dry, although not quite desert.

Reply to  Milo
August 15, 2023 4:29 am

Exactly right, Milo.

It’s the same along most of the California coast. One only needs to go inward a couple or few miles to research semi-arid or desert environments.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 15, 2023 2:56 am

You’re so right about tree-cutting leading to irrecoverable deserts.

Look at New England where in the 17th and 18th centuries the sugar-mongers (farmers) ravaged most of the primordial forests despite the unsuitable rocky soils and hilly terrain. It led to the present desert. Oh wait! Seems I have that wrong. No deserts here in New England. More trees than in the 1700s. Now how is that possible, irrecoverable and all?

Must be an anomaly. But surely there’s a desert in Olde England whence the miscreants came, fleeing the irrecoverable desert?

Does irrecoverable mean something different than I thought? Even old England seems wet and green.

Hadley cells? What a crock of shite!

Rave on Peta, never let reality disturb your delusions!

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 15, 2023 3:07 am

Exactly how do you expect large parts of Australia to NOT be “irrecoverable desert” when the highly erratic rainfall averages less than 8” per year over much of the continent?

You might understand native burning habits if you’d ever stood in the middle of a million acres of very dry fuel, on a hot, windy summer afternoon…. with no fire shelters and no other way of getting out of Dodge than your bare feet.
The result of frequent burning was not desert, but grassy woodlands. Scattered large timber with perennial grass understory. Burning early both reduces fire intensity and destroys the seed of those invasive annual species, leaving a low-density drought-tolerant sward of native grasses.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  PeterW
August 15, 2023 9:27 am

Even the prehumen’s burned early were they lived, to enhance wild life and avoid fuel build up. Only only now when common sense has disappeared and been replaced by eco nonsense have we forgot lessen learned by those prehumen’s and handed off to our ancestors.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 15, 2023 4:26 am

The same incompetence and negligence that played out in the Marshall fire in Colorado could happen again, although this year the grasses are higher and greener.

Very infrequently do the drainage ditches in this area flow past early July, but here it is in mid August and they’re still going strong. There will be more fuel biomass to burn when it inevitably dries.

Mike McMillan
August 14, 2023 11:06 pm

Fifth: Building codes that make houses more fire resistant, not fireproof, but slower to catch fire to give residents time to flee. Brick veneer, metal roofs, firebreak landscaping, sprinkler systems. Slow the spread.

Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 15, 2023 3:01 am

Australia has what is referred to as a BAL rating.

Different rules for different BAL ratings.

For eg.. where I am, BAL29, for my renovations I had to spend a whole heap extra on “hard-to burn” exterior timber for my new veranda. No pine allowed.

New windows needed to be 6mm tempered glass, exterior cladding and roof had to be non-flammable eg brick or 9mm fibrous cement. Fly screens have to be metal, not fibreglass.

I also have a 20m+ road reserve + 6m frontage, with “only-hard-to-burn plants” requirement, eg no eucalypts

Yes, it costs a lot extra, but well worth it…. I hope 😉

ps.. the insurance company would not have covered “fire” without these things done.

Reply to  bnice2000
August 15, 2023 3:09 am

I should also note that the last few years of above average rainfall have played havoc with the fire trails.

I don’t own a 4WD, but I’m pretty sure that due of water erosion, some of the local tracks would be basically unpassable with firefighting equipment.

This is also a maintenance issue.. which is totally neglected.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  bnice2000
August 15, 2023 9:45 am

The US Forest Service has let the road all across our public lands degrade. It makes no sense at all. Especially now the eco nuts want everything untouched. Eco nut are basically anti human.

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  bnice2000
August 15, 2023 5:06 pm

Bushfire Attack Level or BAL

Thanks mate, very interesting.

Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 15, 2023 4:30 am

That would be rational.

Mr Ed
Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 15, 2023 8:15 am

Trying to outrun a 60mph+ flame front is futile. A rebuild should have fire bunkers
and wildfire sprinklers, I have a WEEDS system on my house in the mountains.
Wind Enabled Ember Dousing system. That is a low pressure, low volume water

It has 10F nozzles pointed outward and a rooftop sprinkler system, plus foam and
an applicator.
Its the little things like soffit vents with screens and the vents on the lower side
of the soffits not next to the walls..

But if full sized burning logs start dropping out of the sky from thousands
of feet up, all bets are off. Also worth sharing is during the Fort Mac fire a few years
ago the number of vehicles that shut down from the smoke along the highway, the
new vehicle emission systems can’t handle the smoke and shut down the engine.
Many thousands of vehicles shut down, the media claimed it was from running out
of gas, which is not true..
Keep an older non emission vehicle around for a getaway.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Mr Ed
August 15, 2023 9:56 am

Considering the whole thing could have been prevent by have field of pineapple or sugar cane that was irrigated. Or the grass grazed and mowed outside of town for at least five miles all the way around and what to inaccessible turn goats out on it. We have the same problems here in Arizona, aggravated by illegal camp sites out in the desert and forest. Mostly by people who are idiots or those that spend their money on things other than housing. Fire breaks are you kidding everything need to be “natural” Even though most wild areas have ben shaped by humans and prehumen’s long before modern man.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 15, 2023 9:32 am

My grandfather house was in a Jack Pine grove the was only one tree within a hundred feet of the house and barn the wood shed was that far away. My childhood home Did not have another house with a hundred feet from it. The town was laid out in the early 1900 on a prairie most lots were 100 by 150 feet, they knew and understood fire safety back them after all fire were far more common back then.

August 14, 2023 11:09 pm

Aerial footage reveals that some structures escaped virtually unscathed just dozens of feet from ones that were completely razed. Careful analysis would illuminate what made the difference. Building materials? Firebreaks created by parking lots? I noticed one building that appeared intact was just downwind of what looks like a (concrete) parking garage, forming a lifesaving firebreak. Golf courses helped too, providing wide breaks covered by short, green grass. Hopefully lessons will be learned about mitigation, warning, and emergency response that will prevent a future tragedy.

Gregg Eshelman
Reply to  stinkerp
August 15, 2023 12:46 am

A few residents had the opportunity to spray their homes with water shortly before they left. Some of those people still have houses instead of ash heaps.

Reply to  stinkerp
August 15, 2023 4:35 am

That’s exactly what occurred in the Marshall fire in Colorado. Ignition sources were created where hot ash could accumulate, e.g., on the back side of fence posts, bushes next to houses, etc.

Martin Brumby
August 14, 2023 11:41 pm

Many great points from Cliff Mass and in the comments. Certainly the non-native grass and the building standards need looking at and improving.
Also electrical distribution that shouldn’t blow down in a 60 mph (or 120 mph!) wind.

Does Maui have GangGreen arsonists? We all know that they believe that “the ends [Saving the Planet] justify the means [murder]” and whether in California, Rhodes, Australia, Spain, many fires have been deliberately started. Of course, some arsonists are just common, or garden, loonies. Not all GangGreen loonies.

And it is always pointed out that ignorant stupidity is usually sufficient to explain what could be a Criminal Conspiracy. But after what we all have experienced in recent years, including OBVIOUS conspiracies, that can’t be ruled out.

Reply to  Martin Brumby
August 14, 2023 11:51 pm

Leaving tall dry vegetation standing is a common problem around the world.

But pyromaniacs, firefighters, ecoloons and anarchists have intentionally set fires through the West, including recently in Oregon and Washington.

Downed transformers and power lines are however more likely.

Reply to  Martin Brumby
August 14, 2023 11:58 pm

Human caused (98%) doesnt mostly mean deliberate arson.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Martin Brumby
August 15, 2023 3:11 am

After losing essentially the whole town due to downed power lines (assuming that proves to be the case), would it really not be cost-effective to run the power lines underground this time?

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 15, 2023 7:02 am

Lava ……

cutting stone is not cheap ….

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
August 16, 2023 4:45 pm

Well how are they running sewer and water lines? Overhead? I’ll bet there’s a lot of earth above the lava.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 15, 2023 8:37 am

From what I have read, it appears the ignition source(s) were outside of the built-up area. Burying the local lines would not have helped, except to make evacuation easier.

August 15, 2023 12:23 am

Rewilding. costs lives

Gregg Eshelman
August 15, 2023 12:45 am

Instead of de-energizing power lines in high wind, bury them in all areas of the islands that get the high speed wind. Spend the $ to do that before another summer wind blast burns another city.

Sprinklers on rooftops and lawn sprinklers could be used as fire defense. It doesn’t take much water to keep a structure from *catching fire*. Embers landing on wet surfaces will quench quickly.

Rebuilt Lahaina should have a fire code requiring external building wetting. The trick to making it effective would be designing an automatic activation system that doesn’t need power, and will open the valves when a fire is near and before the building the sprinklers are on is on fire. Can’t have it going off too soon or the water would be wasted and could run out, then the building might dry and be vulnerable.

For wildfires like this one, there would need to be a way to trigger all the sprinklers to handle embers blowing across the entire city. The vulnerable period was short due to the extreme speed the dry grass north and east of the city was consumed. With sprinklers spraying as the first embers flew in, by the time the water supply would have been exhausted, the fire would have burned out.

I’ve seen interviews with a few Lahaina residents who were able to hose down their homes just before they evacuated. They still have homes. Even with the wind and the buildings around their houses burning to nothing, they stayed damp enough to not catch fire.

Jim Steele
August 15, 2023 1:12 am

The Lahaina area is infamous for strong downslope wind events reaching 80 to 100 mph every 8-12 years. Those winds have been known to “demolish buildings, overturn large power transmission line towers, and uproot trees.” This is due to the direction of the trade winds and the way the mountains funnel the winds into the Lahaina region. Once or twice a year strong but more moderate winds occur. The locals named Lahaina winds the “Lehua winds” after the red blossoms of the ʻōhiʻa lehua tree that showers the landscape during such events. The Lehua winds have been officially reported in the 1995 “A Natural History of the Hawaiian Islands” and in 1985 research reports. And even the writes about these Violent Winds on Maui.

If you had ever taken a walking tour of Lahaina, you would have visited Hale Piula. In 1858, a violent windstorm destroyed about 20 buildings in Lahaina, including Hale Piula, which
served as the courthouse and palace of King Kamehameha III. Lahaina is famous
for its fierce winds that have nothing to do with Michael Mann’s climate crisis!
Much information about Lahaina WInds pubished in the 2007 article A COLLECTION OF TRADITIONS AND HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS OF KAUA‘ULA AND OTHER LANDS OF LAHAINA, MAUI Read the chapter “Gales of the Kaua‘ula and Other Lahaina Winds Described in 1858 & 1859″ talks about violent winds long before CO2 was rising.

Reply to  Jim Steele
August 15, 2023 8:33 am

How many more lived in 2023 Lahaina than in 1858? If the town would have been as big as it was in 2023 the result would have most likely be the same.

Ireneusz Palmowski
August 15, 2023 1:48 am

One might have thought that El Niño would cause the easterly circulation to stall and increase cloud cover over Hawaii. However, the forecasts were wrong. With an increase in solar wind power and energy added to the atmosphere in high latitudes, the easterly circulation remained.
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August 15, 2023 2:48 am

After 4 years of good rainfall, Australia is also gearing up for another bad bushfire season.

Scruby bushlands are full of tall grasses, undergrowth and small eucalypts and wattles.

Of course, because it takes ages to get a permit to do controlled burns, nothing is happening to try to contain the situation.

You can almost see the “climate scammers” salivating at the prospect of the next bad bushfire season… coming soon.

August 15, 2023 2:52 am

Pardon me, but I get a little tired of constant calls for warnings.
Stick your head out the window. If it is hot and windy and the vegetation is dry, you are at high risk of fire. Be ready.
If there is smoke there is a fire.
if the wind is blowing it over you, the fire is coming in your direction.
Have a plan and put it into action. EARLY.

I am also tired of the constant emphasis on arson. Arson sucks, and arsonists should be chained to a handy tree in front of the fires they lit…. but if arson dropped to zero, there would still be fires.

if we managed the fuel, then all fires stay small and are easy to control (relatively speaking) It won’t matter how they start, although the temptation to arson would decrease as it’s hard to get excited about small, mild fires.

If you own the fuel, you own the fire. Land owners and Land Management Agencies need to be held accountable for their failure to manage the risk posed by vegetation on their land.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  PeterW
August 15, 2023 10:07 am

With the present eco nuts running everything it more likely nothing will be done. Add in what may be done will likely make it worse. Like California make brush clean up under power lines illegal and even worse they got on the renewable band wagon which drove up cost so much. Rather then raise rates to show what the true cost were they refused rate increase to the power companies. That lead to a lack of money so the infrastructure was not keep up nor did the power companies have toe money to clear the brush under their decrepit powerlines. Eco nut are running our National Forest Service and most Game and fish departments also. They are accountable but they will never be held accountable for it.

Fred Friar
August 15, 2023 3:48 am

building fire proof is not rocket science. Don’t use wood, steel framing or masonry, concrete or tile roof, double 1/2″ dry wall. Jamaica now goes to the extreme all new construction even interior walls are reinforced concrete making a hurricane proof dwelling. Most commercial construction code these days is fire proof.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Fred Friar
August 15, 2023 10:16 am

No such thing as fire proof, fire resistant yes, fire proof nope. Even if the building fire resistant what inside is not, and nearby fire will cause the interior to heat up and than the inside material will combust. Spacing is the key and it will be a cold day in hell when proper spacing happens. Ten feet is a recipe for disaster and ten feet apart is now the norm for most building codes. If you are out in the country side the rule use to be nothing combustible with 100ft of a building and make sure the yard is mowed.

Reply to  Fred Friar
August 15, 2023 11:38 am

” Don’t use wood, steel framing or masonry, concrete or tile roof, double 1/2″ dry wall. ”
Careless post…

Then, WHAT would you use?

August 15, 2023 4:42 am

Someone did ask about the fire hazards….but apparently a lone voice was not enough….every individual better not depend on the gubment.

August 15, 2023 4:55 am

I wonder if any the 7000+, 74 kW or greater solar PV installs on Maui had any bearing on sparking the fire. Particularly with high winds…

August 15, 2023 5:43 am

Sorry, but the main action that will stop the fires happening again is the control of the fuel load. And that requires grazing the grasslands even if just for the minimum to create firebreaks. Killing off the invasive grass is not viable so keeping the level down with sheep is the best option. It will need investment in building slaughtering infrastructure which currently doesn’t exist and there needs to be a resolve to face down the ecofascist rewilding nutters that are anti livestock.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  gezza1298
August 15, 2023 8:43 am

But what about the methane? 🙂

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 15, 2023 10:19 am

The dirty little secret is once the grass grows the methane production is built in it does not matter if it is eaten or rots the methane amount will remain the same. In the end it a zero sum game. The methane argument is anti animal and anti human.

Reply to  gezza1298
August 16, 2023 6:58 am

Grazing isn’t the only way – there is also the “controlled fires” way.

old cocky
Reply to  c1ue
August 16, 2023 2:31 pm

Grazing sheep or cattle is probably a better bet for grass, because it’s continuous.

Controlled burns are quite effective in removing fallen leaves and branches in timbered country, because these accumulate quite slowly.

Goats are browsers by preference, so are very effective at controlling scrub and undergrowth.

Beta Blocker
August 15, 2023 6:44 am

Sparking powerlines were the most likely source of ignition for the wildfires. The lessons of the 2018 fire which destroyed Paradise, California; and the 2021 Marshall fire in Colorado, should have been plainly evident to anyone in a position of authority in Hawaii’s state and local government agencies who were assigned responsibility for being proactive in dealing with the threat of wildfires on the islands.

It is now abundantly clear that local civil authorities in Hawaii were criminally negligent for not recognizing that a seriously dangerous situation was developing on Maui before the fire ignited, and for not taking immediate action to address the danger of wildfire by shutting off power to the island’s transmission lines well before strong winds could take them down.

Climate activists are now putting pressure on the Biden Administration to use the Maui wildfire disaster as a justification for declaring a formal climate emergency. If Biden does declare an emergency, how far will it go?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Beta Blocker
August 15, 2023 7:21 am

Joe Biden has no comment on the death and destruction from wildfires in Hawaii.

Reply to  Beta Blocker
August 16, 2023 7:02 am

Not obviously clear to me.
Northern California has trees growing all along hundreds of miles of power lines – does Hawaii have the same issue?
Age of infrastructure is another possibility – again, the PG & E infrastructure is generations old. I have seen pictures of 2 inch thick steel cable holders that have been worn halfway through (or more) due to decades of cables swaying in the wind.
Sparking power lines is a symptom, not a normal feature of a well maintained transmission grid.

August 15, 2023 7:52 am

Another excuse to shout “CC caused it”. Never let a catastrophe go to waste.

August 15, 2023 8:10 am

Sadly this one should be called “The Karen Fire” because its a culmination of letting Karens have their way in where and how they build, what they plant and not doing proper safety measures because they’re ‘ugly’.

Hawaii should have just as many large cachements of connected water supply for firefighting as we saw in The Canaries during the eruptions there but the islands seem to be loaded up with all sorts of un-accessable and thus un-usable private tanks with no organization.

Places like Maui should do metal roof and metal siding protected construction and obey the 15 foot rule like we have down in Florida.

Sorry, but this one wasn’t an act of god. It likely also wasn’t an unavoidable accident that started it.

Reply to  prjndigo
August 15, 2023 8:41 am

Heard that water pressure at fire hydrants failed because of power outages caused by the fire leading to electric water pumps not being operative. So shutting off grid power to avoid sparking from downed lines without having a backup system in place to maintain water pressure for fire fighting would likely also have failed.

Reply to  prjndigo
August 21, 2023 8:51 pm

Why should Hawaii’s limited potable water supply need to be used for firefighting at all? Just connect the hydrants to seawater.

August 15, 2023 10:15 am

This fire brings to mind a photo some years back of a home in one of the canyons East of LA, where all of the homes burned to the ground, save one. It seemed that a immigrant vietnamese thought the environment lent itself to fire, so he built his house with bricks, blocks and terracotta.

August 15, 2023 12:44 pm

Story tip: Someone has already published a propaganda book about the Maui fires

Fire and Fury: The Story of the Maui Fire and its Implications for Climate Change is a gripping and eye-opening account of one of the most devastating wildfires in Hawaii’s history, and how it reveals the urgent need to address the global climate crisis.

It goes on to say “The book chronicles the events of August 8-11, 2023” – the book was published on August 10.

Propaganda at its finest here.

August 21, 2023 8:56 pm

Alt-news sites are full of speculation right now that the fire was arson, and/or was deliberately made worse by policy decisions such as the police blocking the roads east of Lahaina so no one in town could escape in their cars.

I don’t yet know enough to have an opinion. But I do believe some of the other stories I’ve heard — including that the governor wants the state to take over the whole fire area by eminent domain and hand it to BlackRock to build a “15 minute city” there, as if anyone would want to live in such a monstrosity.

Please, shoot lots of holes in these theories. I want them to be wrong.

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