Hawai`i Firefighters Answer Call for Help
Hawai`i Volcanoes News Release
Date: July 27, 2006
Contact: Park Ranger Mardie Lane, 808-985-6018
A 20-person wildland fire crew from the Hawaiian Islands will deploy tomorrow to the Hunter Fire in Mendocino National Forest in Covelo, California.
The crew includes firefighters from four national parks in Hawai‘i (Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Pu‘ukohola Heiau, Haleakala, and USS Arizona Memorial) as well as personnel who completed wildland fire training at Hawai‘i Community College.
At least three wildland fires started on the Mendocino National Forest Sunday night when a lightning storm passed through northern California. The fires range in size from five to 200 acres and firefighters are working to suppress them. Additional firefighters had been requested to assist.
According to Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ Acting Fire Management Officer Greg Herbst, “The mainland is currently experiencing extreme fire behavior with numerous wildland fires starting every day. Our Hawai‘i crew mobilized in response to a real need for help and relief.” The fire assignment could last three weeks, and firefighters may be assigned to other fire incidents.
The Hunter Fire (about 200 acres) is in the Black Butte River watershed, which is critical habitat for the northern spotted owl, a threatened species, and anadromous fish. Anadromous fish, such as coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, and American shad, are those that spend all or part of their adult life in salt water and return to freshwater streams and rivers to spawn.
Although this summer’s dry, windy weather has put parts of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in a very high fire danger status, the park retains the necessary personnel to carry out an initial fire suppression response.
“The national park service remains committed to maintaining a cadre of qualified wildland firefighters ready to respond locally, to the mainland, as well as to Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa,” added Herbst.
Park visitors are reminded that they can help prevent fires when they 1) don’t smoke while hiking, 2) properly extinguish and dispose of cigarettes, and 3) park cars in paved parking lots—the hot exhaust system of a car parked in grass can start a fire.
Did You Know?
During the 1800's, vast quantities of fragrant sandalwood were the first major export of the Hawaiian Islands. The trade nearly caused the extinction of `iliahi or sandalwood (Santalum paniculatum).