The heart-breaking wildfire in Hawaii this month should serve as an urgent warning to the Virgin Islands.

The two archipelagos, after all, are very similar in many important respects. Both are chains of small, mostly mountainous islands. Both often see the sort of high winds that quickly spread the devastating blaze across much of Maui this month.

And both are virtual tinderboxes during hot, dry seasons like the one the VI has experienced in recent weeks.

In the future, such risks will be greatly exacerbated by climate change. Temperatures are already reaching new highs around the world, and the Caribbean is among many areas experiencing increased droughts.

In other words, the VI is already vulnerable to the possibility of a wildfire like the one that ripped through Maui, killing at least 115 people, leaving some 850 missing, and destroying or damaging around 3,000 homes and businesses.

Indeed, the territory is lucky that it hasn’t experienced a similar blaze before. There are many glaring risks that could start one, including frequent landfill fires and residents’ tendency to burn rubbish in their yards.

The VI is lucky to have a robust Department of Disaster Management and Fire and Rescue Service, both of which have been honed by the longstanding threat of disasters like tsunamis and hurricanes.

But recent events suggest the territory is ill prepared for major fires.

Virgin Gorda’s dump, for instance, recently burned for several hours before a major blaze there was brought under control — not by fire trucks, which apparently weren’t up to the task, but by water trucks.

If that fire had spread, could Virgin Gorda have seen a similar disaster as Maui?

There are signs that Tortola is similarly ill prepared. Fire trucks are often in short supply on the island, and in recent years firefighters have struggled to contain major blazes at Pockwood Pond and at the temporary dumpsite set up at Coxheath after Hurricane Irma. Such fires could easily spread out of control.

We hope, then, that the government will use the Maui wildfires as an opportunity to learn.

To that end, officials should study the disaster and review this territory’s capacity for responding to a similar incident with an eye toward strengthening any weaknesses as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, businesses, organisations and individuals should recommit to educating themselves about fire safety and devising a strategy to prepare for a major wildfire — just as they do for hurricanes and tsunamis.

Amid an increasingly active hurricane season, it is exhausting to have to prepare for another type of disaster. But prepare the community must.