The deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a century destroyed thousands of buildings and houses and displaced tens of thousands of people.
The lawsuit alleges that Hawaii Electric “also chose not to deenergize their power lines after they knew some poles and lines had fallen and were in contact with the vegetation or the ground,” which could have prevented the devastating wildfires on Maui.
Shares of the firm dropped to $18.70 shortly after the opening bell, hitting a low not seen since February 2010 when two lawsuits were filed by state residents who held the company responsible for the wildfires that killed at least 96 people.
The public’s response to the administration’s handling of the deadliest natural disaster in the state’s history—the Maui wildfires—has been mixed.
— Charbel H.Najem (@ChNajem) August 10, 2023
Every month, as part of the island’s routine inspections, all eighty green siren towers sound to alert residents to potential danger. The loud noise can be detected from almost a half a mile away. There are more than 400 outdoor sirens in Hawaii, making it the world leader in this category.
At a press conference on Thursday, Mayor of Maui Richard Bissen dismissed concerns about the conflict between Tuesday’s orders to evacuate and shelter in place. He said the county had done all it could to help, but that it had no recourse against people who ignored its warnings.
The purpose of the sirens, as stated by Maui County, is to sound a continuous three-minute tone in the event of a natural disaster such as a wildfire, prompting residents to tune in to their local radio or television station for updates. Adam Weintraub, a spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, claimed that local authorities did not activate the siren system. While the sirens may not have prevented any deaths, numerous residents claim they were not warned of the fires on day one.
At least four tweets from the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service warned that dry conditions combined with high winds posed a significant risk of wildfires in various portions of Hawaii. According to the Western Fire Chiefs Association, electrical systems are a leading source of wildfires.
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