The deadly Maui wildfires, which included those in Lahaina and Kula, are said to have caused damage for which Maui County claims it has launched a lawsuit against the local power providers.
The complaint asserts that despite a National Weather Service red flag warning on August 7, Maui Electric Company, Limited, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawai’i Electric Light Company, Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. failed to turn off their electrical equipment in a negligent manner.
A red flag warning is described by the National Weather Service as “warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger.”
Since trading began on Monday, Hawaiian Electric’s stock has dropped by over 40% on worries that it may be held responsible for the damage caused by the Maui wildfires.
Over 2,000 buildings were destroyed and hundreds of acres were burned during the devastating wildfires that broke out on the Hawaiian island of Maui on August 8.
The complaint claims that the fallen, electrified power lines “ignited dry fuel such as grass and brush, causing the fires.” Authorities claim that the fire spread quickly owing to the fires being caused by very dry conditions brought on by the drought and strong winds. An inquiry into what occurred is ongoing, a Hawaiian Electric spokesman announced during a news conference on August 15.
When questioned about why power lines were not turned off during strong winds, the representative responded that, unlike California, the state does not have a shut-off program, claiming that it would be difficult for the weak and those who require medical care, as well as being “controversial” and not widely accepted.
She said that electricity runs the pumps that supply the water needed to put out the fire. The fire’s official cause has not been established.
Source: ABC News