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POSTED: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NO SPARKS ALLOWED

Give fires the brushoff

The weather folks were right, alas, when they issued a fire weather watch before the holiday weekend.

“;Breezy and gusty tradewinds combined with warm and dry weather will create the potential for critical fire weather conditions across Leeward portions of all islands,”; the National Weather Service predicted Thursday. Sure enough, almost on cue, a 150-acre Waiawa Ridge wildfire blazed dangereously close to homes and the H-2 freeway, closing traffic on the crucial byway for some five hours Saturday. It was the second time in a week that massive flames hit the area: The first time, 350 acres burned and the H-2 also closed temporarily.

Last week also gave Molokai people a dramatic scare, as a stubborn brush fire torched 6,000 acres and threatened homes (photo at left).

Fortunately, none of those fires caused loss of life or property. But they could have, were it not for the dedicated and courageous work of firefighters. Let's help keep them off the fire line by being vigilant against potential hazards that might spark a blaze—especially in these dry times.

BOOK IT

Reading is the root of all learning

It's not always easy for parents and guardians to keep their kids on track at school. Between adults working full-time jobs and dealing with other recession-related stresses, the kids' academics can slide. Helping youngsters progress and stay on top of homework can be almost as challenging for the adults as for the students.

Still ... A child's beginnings has big-time effects on his or her lifelong learning abilities. “;Children's early years provide critical opportunities to learn and to establish a strong foundation for learning,”; says Hugh Dunn, director of early learning programs for Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. So it is that more than 20 schools and programs on the Waianae Coast and in the Farrington Complex will be project sites for a $1 million initiative that aims to have every Hawaii third-grader reading by 2015. Hawaii State Assessment results show that 61 percent of third-graders were proficient in reading in 2007 and 2008, with a 1 percent increase in 2009.