Brushing up on wildfire skills

First photo: Maui Fire Department firefighters learn how to “fight fire with fire” while taking part in an annual wild land refresher training in a former sugar cane field several miles mauka of Puunene Tuesday morning. Assistant Chief Rick Kawasaki explained that during a windblown brush fire a “backfire,” or “burnout,” strategy can be used to widen a firebreak or eliminate combustibles next to structures to rob a raging fire of fuel when it reaches the area. “It’s less labor intensive,” Kawasaki said. “With this type of fuel, it burns so fast, we can’t keep up.” He said the strategy was used to halt a brush fire last September that started in Haliimaile and burned all the way to the Central Maui Landfill on Pulehu Road. He said the firefighters training Tuesday were learning about strategies, like placement and how to anticipate and deal with shifting winds. “It can get away from you,” he said. “That’s why this is important.” Firefighters from stations around the island took part in the training that is scheduled to conclude today.

Second photo: Firefighters practice using drip torches spouting a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline to start a controlled burn along the upwind edge of a paved agriculture road Tuesday.

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos


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