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Big Island drought has national park officials and others on alert for wildfires

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 7:08 a.m. HST, Sep 30, 2010

 VOLCANO, Hawaii >> Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials have met with their Big Island neighbors to discuss the continuing drought that could lead to wildfires.

"It's ready to burn," fire prevention expert Gary Wuchner told about 100 landowners, residents and other stakeholders last night.

The park's fire management officer, Joe Molhoek, says park areas that normally receive 50 inches of rain a year have seen 3 inches in the past nine months.

The park's chief of natural resource management, Rhonda Loh, called the drought "unprecedented," saying she hasn't seen conditions so bad in her 20 years at the park.

All campfires have been banned in the park. Federal firefighters from California and Washington state are on the Big Island, ready to help.


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