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Hawaii Wildfires Reveal Another Deadly Aspect of Hurricanes

When preparing for hurricanes, don’t overlook the possibility of fire damage.

August 14, 2023

When you think of the destruction a hurricane can do to your facility, your first thoughts might be damage from high winds and flooding. But have you considered fire?

The wildfires raging on the Hawaiian island of Maui, in particular ravaging its historic town of Lahaina, are believed to have been fanned by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora, reports CBS News, and serve as a reminder that wildfires and their resulting damage can be a deadly consequence of extreme winds.

On Tuesday, August 8, the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) in Honolulu warned via a Tweet that—despite being hundreds of miles south of Hawaii—the Category 4 hurricane’s winds, with gusts expected as high as 60 miles per hour (mph), threatened to cause a rapid spread of fire. In reality, according to the NWS, some parts of the state experienced winds from the storm as high as 82 mph.

“We don’t know what actually ignited the fires, but we were made aware in advance by the National Weather Service that we were in a red flag situation,” Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaii Army National Guard commander general, said during a briefing last week. Extremely dry conditions, combine with low humidity and the hurricane-force winds, “set the conditions for the wildfires,” he said.

As of Friday, August 11, it was reported by NBC News that as many as 55 people had been killed as a result of the Maui wildfires, with the number of deaths expected to rise.

To learn how you can be proactive against wildfire damage, see 4 Things to Do Before a Wildfire Hits Your Facility.

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