Hawaii officials were warned years ago that Maui’s Lahaina faced High Wildfire Risk


Wall Street Journal 12th August 2023

Nearly a decade before a wildfire destroyed the coastal Maui town of Lahaina this week, killing at least 89 people, a report by Hawaiian fire researchers warned that the area was at extremely high risk of burning.

Another report, in 2020, tied fires to winds from a passing hurricane—similar to the ones that fanned the Lahaina blaze.

And the state’s electric utility had for years worried about wildfire risk in the area. It even flew drones to monitor conditions.

Yet local authorities said in the aftermath of this week’s devastation that though they knew wildfires were becoming more frequent in Hawaii, they weren’t prepared for one to roar through Lahaina.

The fire hit the coastal town so quickly and caught officials so off-guard that emergency sirens didn’t sound. Many panicked residents were unable to flee on the town’s one clogged highway and took boats or swam to safety, if they were able to escape at all.

In 2014, a wildfire-protection plan for the area was written by the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a non-profit that works with government agencies. It warned that Lahaina was among Maui’s most fire-prone areas because of its proximity to parched grasslands, steep terrain and frequent winds.

The plan, which involved Maui and state officials, laid out a multitude of mitigation measures that needed to be undertaken to shield the area around Lahaina from fires. They included thinning vegetation near populated areas, improving wildfire-response capabilities and working with landowners and utilities to help reduce fire risk on their property.

Some of the recommendations from the 2014 plan, which was devised after more than a half-dozen community meetings, were implemented, like brush thinning efforts and public education for landowners, said the report’s lead author, Elizabeth Pickett. But others, such as ramping up emergency-response capacity, have been stymied by a lack of funding, logistical hurdles in rugged terrain and competing priorities, said Pickett, co-executive director of the wildfire non-profit.

“We’ve been hammering this home, and it’s just really frustrating and heart breaking to see that some things could have been done, but we couldn’t find money,” she said. “We are living through what happens when there’s a lag and everyone’s still catching up.”

Representatives for the Hawaii State and Maui county governments didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Asked at a press conference Thursday why the state wasn’t more prepared, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said, “We’ve never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this before.

He said officials were particularly surprised that Hurricane Dora, which passed by Hawaii this week, caused winds as strong as 60 miles an hour (100 km/h) , driving the blaze into Lahaina faster than emergency responders and residents could keep up.

“This was, of course, a shock to see a hurricane and its winds and trade winds cause collateral damage, which was the spread of fire,” he said.

But that risk was known too.

The fire danger from passing hurricanes in Hawaii was documented in a 2020 report by researchers at the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center, which tied a 2018 outbreak of fires on both Maui and Oahu to winds from Hurricane Lane.

Like Hurricane Dora, Hurricane Lane passed the islands to the south, but sparked four fires—three on West Maui and one on Oahu—which blackened about 3,000 acres.

Over the past decade, an average of 20,000 acres have burned annually in Hawaii, more than quadruple the pace from a century ago, according to the Pacific Fire Exchange, a wildfire research group.

One of the main causes has been the proliferation of non-native grass and shrubs, the group said.

The researchers in the 2020 hurricane report said the fires tied to Lane ignited in areas dominated by non-native grasses, which are exceptionally flammable and have proliferated in recent years, now covering one-quarter of the state.

Non-native grasses blanketed the sloped terrain around Lahaina.

Utility Lines

Jennifer Potter, a former state public utility commissioner who lives on Maui, said she began hearing growing concern from community members about fire activity on the island beginning in 2019. That same year, Hawaiian Electric, the state’s main utility, said it would fly drones over areas including West Maui to identify utility lines prone to wildfires.

Documents show Hawaiian Electric submitted a request for funding in 2022 from the public utilities commission to help offset the $189.7 million it said it needed to bolster its power grid across the state, including wildfire-prevention measures. The request is still being processed.

A spokesman for the utility didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“There was absolutely knowledge within the state and within the electric industry that fire was a huge, huge concern on the island of Maui, and even more so than any of the other islands,” Potter said. “I don’t think it’s fair to say we’ve never seen this coming.”

Residents of Lahaina said they didn’t see the fire coming just hours before it reached their town Tuesday.

Around 9 a.m. local time that day, Maui officials said the wildfire outside Lahaina had been 100% contained. By midafternoon, however, it had grown out of control, driven by winds as strong as 60 miles an hour.

The Wildfire


“The fire that day moved so quickly, that from where it started in the brush to where it moved into the neighbourhood, communications back to those who make [emergency] notifications were physically nearly impossible,” he said.

Some Lahaina residents said they received emergency alerts, but many didn’t. The fire disabled cellular service in the city, as well as power and water.

Hawaii has what it says is one of the world’s largest siren systems to warn people of all kinds of events, including wildfires and hurricanes. Maui County has 80. State records don’t indicate that the sirens sounded in Lahaina, according to the Associated Press.

“Normally there’d be, like, a hurricane siren or something. None of that stuff went off,” said Kevin Campbell, who escaped Lahaina with his pregnant wife, Tasha.

When he tried to persuade friends to leave, he said, some argued that it was pointless for them to go. The single-lane Honoapi’ilani Highway, the main road out of town, was jammed with cars. Portions of it were closed because of downed power lines from the earlier windstorms.

Some residents and tourists abandoned their gridlocked cars on foot, while others rammed vehicles through gates, fled by boat, or waited out the fire in the ocean, witnesses said.

“It was so damn fast, by the time I realized, it was like a rainstorm of red sparks going sideways,” said Jo Ann Hayashi, who spent hours wading in the water of Lahaina Harbor to escape the flames.

Ginger Adams Otis, Suryatapa Bhattacharya and Christine Mai-Duc contributed to this article.













World Youth Day – Safety and Security


David Thomas President Safe Communities Portugal was interviewed by Owen Gee on CrimeCheck feature on Solid Gold Sunday, yesterday 30th July, on safety and security during World Youth day 1st to 6th August 2023. David outlined that:

The events are expected to attract over one million to 1.5 million people from all over the world in Lisbon alone. Some areas where major events will be extremely crowded.

It is an unprecedented major security operation for police and health authorities, with a numbers of measure to help people have a safe and enjoyable time.

The main events will take place at Parque Eduardo 7th and “Campo da Graça” (Tejo Park). All information available from JMJ website.

10,000 PSP deployed, 300 civil protection

Various police operations in place:  Anti pick pocket operation, surveillance operations on the beaches of the Cascais line. Border security with Spain has been stepped up

Heat and health

High temperatures -Importance therefore of keeping hydrated use sunscreen​

There will be health stations at major events for those requiring assistance.

The assistance provided by the National Health Service 24 (SNS24) and the National Institute of Medical Emergencies (INEM) will be available in 69 languages during World Youth Day (WYD).

Drones Prohibited

Due to the visit of Pope Francis to the Shrine of Fatima, 5th August the use of unmanned aircraft (Drones) in the Cova da Iria airspace will be prohibited from July 29 to August 6, 2023.

Events what is prohibited

Ttems that cannot be taken into the JMJ main event venues: drones, fireworks, pyrotechnics, laser pointers, knives, glass objects like bottles


IPMA will support WYD 2023 participants through the launch of a microsite with meteorological information fin English and Portuguese from 31st July for quick information available will be for 3 locations in the city of Lisbon.


World Youth Day will cause constraints to traffic, including absolute restrictions from Parque Eduardo VII to downtown Lisbon on the 1st, 3rd and 4th of August, and constraints in the Parque das Nações area and on the Passeio Marítimo de Algés in the August 5th and 6th. There will be certain stations on the yellow and blue metro lines where stations are closed.

Advice is to use public transport and avoid use of cars.


All waste produced must be deposited in containers for recycling and, if it is not recyclable, place it in the undifferentiated container; Do not discard waste

Crime prevention
· General advice given concerning looking after valuables, use your group chat to check in with each other  -Share your location with friends and family on your phone ; keep details of your accommodation.

More info:

In Portuguese and English   + App

Safe Communities Portugal FB page

Brits in Portugal has FB page with useful info









Safe Communities Presentation at the 7th National Meeting of Resilent Cities and Towns

This meeting held on 12th and 13th January in Odemira, is an annual meeting that brings together technicians and officials of public entities that manage the territories in the field of security and civil protection and climate change adaptation, as well as researchers from the academic environment. Those attending on this occasion were from as far away as Porto, Vila Real, Castro Marim and Funchal, Madeira.

The opening session was attended by the Secretary of State for Civil Protection, Patricia Gaspar, and the President of the Municipal Council of Odemira, Hélder Guerreiro. Also attended by the National Director of Risk Prevention and Management, Carlos Mendes, and the Regional Commander Civil Protection of the Alentejo, Jose Guilherme.

Topics such as Resilient Cities, the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, current and future impacts of Climate Change, the new paradigm of the fire risk management model in case of fires extremes, the challenge of accumulation of services between the Municipal Civil Protection Service and the Municipal Police, the implementation and dynamics of the Integrated Operations Centre, the implementation of the Local Platform for Reduction of Disaster Risk, Tsunami Warning Systems, Management of inclusiveness in the context of emergencies, planning and preparation of Population Support Concentration Areas or Local Civil Protection Units / Neighbourhoods.

David Thomas President of SCP presented the role of Safe Communities Portugal concerning matters of Civil Protection in Portugal, featuring its work in helping to create risk awareness and preparedness and the tracking of major incidents. He also covered the approach dealing with vulnerable communities and the main features of its website and growth and coverage of the SCP Facebook page, as well as the latest Northern and Centre Situation alerts page. The presentation was well received by the audience numbering around 120.

Odemira Municipality was recognized by the UN as a “Resilient City” in December 2021, joining the more than 40 municipalities from Portugal that are part of this network.

The Resilient Cities and Villages Network is geared towards local disaster risk reduction and city resilience, through a campaign launched by the United Nations in 2010.

Presentation here: 7º Encontro de Cidades e Vilas Resilientes – 2023 Presentation Odemira Safe Communities Portugal




Solid Gold Sunday – Crime Check – On KissFm Sunday 27th November 2022


Tomorrow Solid Gold Sunday hosted by Owen Gee, will feature “Crime Check” with David Thomas, President of Safe Communities Portugal.

Crime Check will start between 09.10 hrs and 09.20 hrs and David will be sharing information and advice about:

  • IPMA weather warning system and importance of following the warnings and
  • On-line scams we can expect to see more of in lead up to Christmas.

Kiss FM can be heard on 95.8 and 101.2 FM or through the home page of

Looking forward to the show – please listen in.




Safe Communities Portugal 10th Anniversary Lunch


1300 hrs Wednesday 30th November 2022

Restaurant Quinta Do Moinho – Rua da Nossa Sra. da Piedade, Lote 10, 8100-338 Loulé.

Deadline for booking 2359 hrs 25th November 2022

We are posting this reminder as the response to this event has been really excellent and with just a week to go we ask people not to delay booking in order to avoid disappointment, as there is limited space available.

As we are entering the winter period, Safe Communities Portugal is looking at many opportunities for face to face gatherings so you can learn more about our work, how we help communities as well as for fundraising, in order for our Volunteer Organisation to be able to carry out its many activities, develop more and to get to meet as many people as we can over the next few months.

Obviously our followers are spread across Portugal and beyond so we have to start in one place and if successful we will be spreading our wings in the form of similar gatherings to other parts of the country.

We are also taking the opportunity to celebrate10 years since we registered as a non-profit organisation in November 2012.

Our Community and Fund Raising Lunch with Safe Communities Portugal will be held in Loule. The meal will consist of the following courses:

Couvert: Bread, Olives, Butter and Sardine Pate.

Tapas: Various Cured meats, Cheese, Algarve Carrots, Octopus Salad,

Main Course: Grilled mixed meats served with Chips and Salad or Vegetarian option available.

Desert: Various sweets from the cabinet followed by Coffee.

In addition there is a bottle of house wine per 2 persons or a jug of Sangria or Beer, water or juices depending on your preference, included in the price.

The cost per person will be 30 Euros of which a percentage of this cost will be a donation to Safe Communities Portugal.

David Thomas Founder and President SCP will speak on the many different types of work and projects we are involved in and how as a volunteer organisation we help many people across Portugal.

We are also delighted to say that we will also have a guest speaker on the day. Mr Clive Jewell is the Vice Consul at the Consular Office in Portimão and will give us an insight into his role here in the Algarve on behalf of the UK Government.

To book you place email:

Stating your Full Name and the names of any one attending with you. Your Telephone Number and Your Email Address

We will collect the cost of Lunch at the door on the day so please bring cash only.





Lisbon, Nov 02, 2022 (Lusa) – The Minister of Internal Administration announced today a reinforcement of the security of the National Internal Security Network, with an investment of 17.4 million euros in cybersecurity planned for 2023.

During the parliamentary examination in the specialty of the proposal for the State Budget for 2023 (OE2023), José Luís Carneiro said that next year “the planned investment in information and communication technologies will continue to be made”, preparing the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI). ) for “a secure digital transition”.

The official stressed that this investment aims to “strengthen the security of the National Internal Security Network, strengthening cybersecurity means” by 17.4 million euros.

The minister also noted that the sharing of resources and solutions between security forces and services, through the gradual integration of technical support and logistical support structures, “eliminating redundancies and freeing up human resources for the operational area” in the amount of 3.1 million euros.

José Luís Carneiro also advanced that in 2023, 11.5 million euros will be invested in the new generation of 112 operational centers, which will allow the geolocation of calls, a new application for the deaf and interoperability with European operational centers.

According to the minister, the Schengen information systems will be updated by eight million euros and the European travel information and authorization system by five million euros.

José Luís Carneiro also referred that 36.5 million euros will be invested in the emergency communications network of the State SIRESP, to which, over five years, another 75 million will be invested in the scope of the international public tender and a further 38.5 million euros in other investments.


The news of the investment of 11.5 million euros to enable the geolocation of emergency calls is welcome and should enable the location of those seeking assistance to be pinpointed, enabling a faster and more efficient response.





Fake News: Portugal involved in seven cases of disinformation since 2019


Lisbon, Oct 25, 2022 (Lusa) – Portugal appears in seven cases of ‘fake news’ about Ukraine or Member States of the European Union (EU), detected between 2019 and 2022 by the European External Action Service’s working group on misinformation.

The EU today launched a new tool on the EUvsDisinfo website – a new section, available at – that “explains the mechanisms, tactics, common narratives and actors behind disinformation and information manipulation “.

EUvsDisinfo is the main project of the East StratCom working group, having been created in 2015 within the European External Action Service to better respond to ongoing Russian disinformation campaigns affecting the EU and its partners.

In a search in the EUvsDisinfo database carried out today by the Lusa agency, Portugal appears in seven cases of disinformation, with the first having been detected on September 9, 2019, also involving Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

The news, in Russian, from Sonar2050, mentioned that these countries were close to leaving the European Union, following Brexit by the United Kingdom, addressing the disintegration of the European project, due to the dominance of some countries over others, economic issues. or even the situation of migrants.

EUvsDisinfo, which dismantles each case of ‘fake news’, says that article “is a conspiracy that is consistent with a common pro-Kremlin narrative about the impending collapse of the EU”.

Also detected in 2019, on November 17, the Russian website Vesti7 states that French President Emmanuel Macron thinks that NATO was conceived as a response to the enemy [USSR], arguing that it was the opposite and that the Atlantic Alliance was thought of as a “threat to a friend against whom they fought against fascism”. The piece concludes that the creation of NATO was not justified.

Portugal is cited as a founding member of the Atlantic Alliance and EUvsDisinfo points out, in the rebuttal of the article, that historical revisionism is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative and that, after World War II, Soviet troops occupied several Central European countries and that the North Atlantic Treaty was signed, serving three purposes: to deter Soviet expansionism, to prohibit the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe, and to encourage European political integration.

Already an article by News-front, a ‘website’ based in Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014, mentioned on April 20, 2020 that cooperation between the Mediterranean countries, Portugal, Spain and Greece, called into question the hegemony of Germany. on the European continent.

According to the piece, Mediterranean countries suffered greatly from the tax regime imposed by Germany and during the covid-19 pandemic Berlin showed that it did not intend to help EU partners.

For EUvsDisinfo, the pandemic was used to boost the pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about “German hegemony in Europe” and “the supposed imminent collapse of the EU”, in addition to intending to pit several member states against each other.

Three different websites, in German (Snanews), Hungarian (Oroszhirek) and Russian (Armeniasputnik) refer on May 24, 2021 to an episode that took place in 2013, in which they accuse countries such as Portugal, France, Spain or Italy of ending the its airspace to the plane carrying the Bolivian President, Evo Morales, en route to Moscow and which had to land in Vienna, adding that the reason was the suspicion that former US intelligence agent Edward Snowden was on board the presidential plane, whose extradition was demanded by US authorities.

This narrative, it is explained, comes as a response to the episode of May 23, 2021, when Ryanair flight FR4978 was forcibly diverted to Minsk, for the arrest of a Belarusian opposition journalist, Roman Pratasevich. The EU condemned Belarus’ action against the civilian plane and the arrest of Pratasevich.

The mechanism to combat disinformation also states that the two cases cannot be compared, stressing that the Ryanair flight was intercepted by military fighter jets, armed with air-to-air missiles and that the Bolivian flight landed due to bureaucracy, with European nations refused entry into their airspace the aircraft landed in Austria because it needed refueling.

The most recent piece to address Portugal is from August 22, released by the Spanish version of the Russian-based international television network, RT, which accuses Germany of not showing solidarity with Portugal or Spain, and demanding allegiance to the think about building a gas pipeline to these countries.

According to EUvsDisinfo, this disinformation narrative “aims to arouse discontent and animosity against Germany among Spanish citizens” and “to erode European mutual trust and prevent the adoption of European solidarity measures that could mitigate the impact of Russia’s energy blackmail.” against the EU”.

“In terms of energy, both Spain and Portugal have more than enough supply to cover their needs due to their long-term investment in renewable energy and LNG plants and are capable of supplying up to 30% of Europe’s natural gas demand. . Some of the energy measures adopted by the European Commission are effectively the result of a joint proposal presented by Portugal and Spain, and not requirements of Germany’s own interest, as this message of disinformation implies.

The European External Action Service’s working group on disinformation detected 1,200 cases of disinformation in the European Union (EU) in one year regarding Ukraine and Member States.




Around 250,000 people vaccinated against flu and Covid-19

Lisbon, Sep 21, 2022 (Lusa) – Around 250,000 people have been vaccinated against the flu and covid-19 since the beginning of September, the Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, revealed today, appealing to the population to adhere to the vaccination.

“We are within what was our expectation at this stage. The process has been expanding from week to week”, revealed Minister Manuel Pizarro today, explaining that, so far, “about 250,000 people have adhered to the two vaccines”.

Two weeks ago, on September 7, a new vaccination campaign started with 2nd generation vaccines adapted to the Ómicron variant of covid-19 and which aims to immunize around three million people by December.

The process began with those over 80 years old with comorbidities and again takes place in stages, by age groups, advancing as appointments in the older age group are exhausted.

Persons aged 60 years or older, residents and professionals of nursing homes and the national continuing care network, people aged 12 years and older with risk diseases, pregnant women aged 18 or over are eligible to be vaccinated and diseases defined by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) and health professionals and other care providers.

“People are less alert to these infections, but it is even before winter comes that we must prevent ourselves”, warned the minister in statements to journalists at the end of a meeting with the head of the Coordinating Nucleus for Support to the Ministry of Health (NCAMS). ), Carlos Penha Gonçalves, in which the Secretary of State for Health Promotion, Margarida Tavares, and the Director General of Health, Graça Freitas, also participated.

Manuel Pizarro assured that there is no shortage of stock: “We have vaccines for all the patients that are scheduled in the coming weeks, but we are still receiving vaccines”.

About 2.1 million flu vaccines were ordered and more than three million for covid-19: “We are not worried about the lack of vaccines”, he guaranteed.



MAI says crime is decreasing, but intensity of violence is greater


Lisbon, Sep 19, 2022 (Lusa) – The Minister of Internal Administration said today that crime is decreasing this year compared to 2019, a period before the covid-19 pandemic marked by confinement, but “the intensity of violence is increasing that requires attention”.

“We must compare crime figures with 2019, because 2020 and 2021 were years of a pandemic, and comparing with 2019 figures we have lower indicators, both for general and violent crime, but of course we must always be attentive to all manifestations of indiscipline and aggression”, José Luís Carneiro told journalists.

The minister advanced that crime is decreasing, but “the intensity of violence is increasing that require more attention”.

In this sense, he said that the Government created the Commission for the Integrated Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency and Crime and the Public Security Police is developing, on its own initiative, a set of interventions, namely special operations in the most crowded places at night.

The minister was speaking to journalists at the end of the promotion ceremony of the two new chief superintendents, five new superintendents and four intendants of the Public Security Police.

Among the new promotions is Paula Peneda, current commander of the Porto Metropolitan Command of the PSP, who, upon reaching the head superintendent, becomes the first woman to reach the highest rank of the Police.



Hackers share personal data of 1.5 million TAP customers

The hacker group Ragnar Locker, responsible for the computer attack on TAP at the end of last month, have published personal data of 1.5 million airline customers. This Monday 19th September 2022, a document with 581 gigabytes of information was released on the Dark Web.

According to the newspaper Expresso, TAP did not give in to the blackmail of the group of hackers, who say they continue to have access to the airline’s computer systems.

The data released this Monday by the Ragnar Locker group includes names, addresses, mobile phone numbers of customers, as well as confidential agreements and professional identity cards and information about incidents during operations.

According to Expresso, the company only says that “the intrusion was contained at an early stage, before causing damage to operational processes. TAP’s operations are proceeding normally”.

Hackers had already published data on 115,000 customers more than a week ago, and threatened to leak more information if the ransom was not paid. Expresso advances that the Portuguese air carrier did not give in to the blackmail of the Ragnar Locker group.

The cybercrime group that claimed the attack on TAP is the same that carried out a cyberattack on EDP about two and a half years ago and, at the time, Ragnar Locker asked for a ransom of 10 million euros from the company that always denied any payment.

Using malicious applications, called ransomware, the group starts by infecting computer systems, encrypts and hijacks victims’ data. It then seeks to collect ransoms, usually in cryptocurrencies, so that they are more difficult to detect.

After the first intrusion, TAP warned customers affected by the computer attack on the company, whose data were published, that this disclosure “may increase the risk of its illegitimate use”, calling for attention to suspicious communications.