Hawaii Threatened by Yet Another Wildfire

(NewsReady.com) – Over the summer, the historic town of Lahaina in Maui, Hawaii, burned to the ground. As of November 14, the death toll from the blaze was 100. There was recently another fire burning in the state.

A fire has ripped through the Hawaiian rainforest on the island of Oahu. The blaze was located in the mountains in the central part of the island, mostly in the Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Fortunately, the flames moved away from the population centers, allowing residents to breathe a sigh of relief.

While the fire didn’t threaten residents, it did scorch a tropical forest that’s home to 22 species listed as threatened or endangered. Those species include the Hawaiian hoary bat, a tree snail known as pupu kani oe, elepaio birds, and iiwi birds.

JC Watson, manager of the Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership, spoke to Fox News Digital about the blaze. “It was really [a] beautiful native forest,” he said. According to Watson, the fire didn’t burn everything, but it was bad enough. He described it as “pretty moonscape-looking.”

Kristen Oleyte-Velasco, a spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said it wasn’t clear what wildlife and plants were destroyed or damaged in the fire. Reports indicated the blaze did burn ohia and koa trees, both native to the area. Koa trees are often used to make surfboards, canoes, and ukuleles.

Unlike other parts of the country, where fires are common, Hawaii’s forests did not evolve with frequent burns. In fact, wildfires make it easier for non-native plants to grow and take over the forests, which increases the risk of another blaze in the future.

The wildfire on Oahu was on the side of the island that’s wetter. That has some experts concerned about the future. Sam ’Ohu Gon III, a scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii, said it should be a “red flag to all of us.”

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