Record wildfire burns on Hawaii's Big Island

Even though Hawaii has a wet, tropical climate that isn’t typically at risk from large fires, blazes could become more frequent.

Record wildfire burns on Hawaii's Big Island

Firefighters have gotten more control over a wildfire in Hawaii that forced thousands of people to evacuate over the weekend and destroyed at least two homes on the Big Island, but officials warned strong winds Monday could raise the danger again.

Authorities have lifted evacuation orders but warned they could be reinstated at any time and that people should be ready to go.

“It’s the biggest (fire) we’ve ever had on this island,” Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth said of the more than 160-square-kilometre blaze.

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"With the drought conditions that we’ve had, it is of concern. You see something like this where you’re putting thousands of homes in danger, it’s very concerning.”

Fires in Hawaii are unlike many of those burning in the US West. They tend to break out in large grasslands on the dry sides of the islands and are generally much smaller than mainland fires.

Even though Hawaii has a wet, tropical climate that isn’t typically at risk from large fires, blazes could become more frequent as climate change-related weather patterns intensify.

The islands have seen a downward trend in overall rainfall in recent years.

Drought conditions have reached the most severe level in some parts of Hawaii in recent years, according to the US Drought Monitor. Drought that is tied to climate change has made wildfires harder to fight.

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Vehicles are backed up on Waikoloa Road after a mandatory evacuation was ordered as a wildfire approached the Waikoloa Village.

Two homes were confirmed destroyed in the Hawaii fire. One homeowner said he tried to protect his property but lost the battle as the wind picked up.

“I had a dozer on my lawn, my land, and I tried to make a fire break,” Joshua Kihe of the community of Waimea told Hawaii News Now. He said the fire destroyed his home.

“I definitely need to think of a plan because it’s a life-changer,” he said.

Others scrambled to evacuate.

Authorities have lifted evacuation orders but warned they could be reinstated at any time and that people should be ready to go.

“I just seen the flames coming," Waimea resident Kanani Malakaua said.

“I mainly got my important papers, made sure my kids were in the car, got my animals — but this is a very, very scary time for us.”

Some nearby roads were closed, making certain neighbourhoods inaccessible, but there was no imminent threat to those houses.

Hawaii County Fire Chief Kazuo Todd said winds were expected to increase Monday.

“Our current wind forecast is showing wind patterns between 29 to 32 km/h, with gusts up to 64km/h," Mr Todd said Sunday night, “and so while throughout the evening our crews will be working to build fire breaks with dozers and back burns, this temporary lift on the mandatory evacuation may have to be reinforced later on due to prevailing weather patterns.”

According to the National Weather Service, strong winds and generally dry conditions will continue throughout the islands on Monday. The gusts will begin to ease Tuesday.

The fire chief said nearby communities could be inundated with smoke and that anyone with health or breathing problems should find somewhere else to stay.

Mr Roth, the Big Island mayor, said the way the wind come through the area makes it difficult to fight the flames and that officials and residents must stay vigilant.

“The winds kind of swirl, so they’ll be coming at one direction for a couple of minutes and then all of a sudden, they’re blowing in a different direction; that makes it really very difficult to fight a fire when you have swirling winds,” Mr Roth said.

Several wildfires also were burning in drought-stricken California and Oregon.

In this photo provided by the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshall, flames and smoke rise from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (John Hendricks/Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal via AP)

Containment on Monday reached 35 per cent for California's largest, the Dixie Fire, which covered about 1,005 square kilometres in mountains where 45 homes and other buildings have been destroyed.

Evacuation orders and warnings were lifted over the weekend for several areas in Northern California. But gusts were expected to push flames through dry fuels on remote hillsides.

Over the weekend, a lightning-sparked wildfire threatened remote homes along the Trinity River in California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The 33.6 square kilometre McFarland Fire was five per cent contained Monday.

In southern Oregon, lightning struck parched forests hundreds of times in 24 hours, igniting some 50 new wildfires as the nation’s largest blaze burned less than 161 kilometres away, officials said Monday.

Firefighters and aircraft pounced on the new fires before they could spread out of control. No homes were immediately threatened.

The Bootleg Fire, the nation’s largest at 1,676 square kilometres, was 84 per cent contained Monday, though it isn’t expected to be fully under control until October 1.

Source : 9 News More   

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Second child from family dies following horror Queensland crash

A second child has died following a horror car and truck crash that claimed the life of a mother and daughter west of Toowoomba in Southeast Queensland last month.

Second child from family dies following horror Queensland crash

A second child has died following a horror car and truck crash that claimed the life of a mother and daughter in south-east Queensland last month.

The family of five was travelling along the Gore Highway at Captains Mountain, west of Toowoomba, before colliding with a truck just after 7am on July 22.

Lotsy Jose, 35, and six-year-old daughter Catelyn died as a result of the crash with her husband Bipin and two sons, Chris and Caiden, being rushed to Brisbane hospitals in serious conditions.

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The family's eldest son Chris today died away from his injuries.

A fundraiser to support the family has since raised over $485,000, with organiser and family member Martin Mathew revealing the family had only moved to Australia six months ago.

"Lotsy was the family's breadwinner, while Bipin was looking for work," Mr Mathew said.

"Funds raised will go directly to the family to help towards Lotsy's and Catelyn's funeral costs and other expenses."

The 38-year-old truck driver was not seriously injured.

Source : 9 News More   

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