The devastating Maui wildfire claimed several lives and caused chaos. Initially, the cause of the fire was unknown. News reports suggested that it was completely unrelated to the blaze that occurred a day earlier near the power lines, which had fallen due to heavy winds.
Lawmakers weren’t able to find concrete answers to their questions about the fire and its consequences. Shelee Kimura, the CEO of Hawaiian Electric, said that it might take a few months to conclude the ongoing investigations.
In August 2023, Fortune News reported that Hawaii’s electric utility company acknowledged that its power lines were responsible for the wildfire. However, they also accused the county firefighters of leaving the scene, resulting in a second outbreak of fire that turned this into the deadliest wildfire that the United States has witnessed in a century.
In this article, we will discuss whether the power lines caused the Maui wildfire, the legal options available, and the relief efforts being undertaken.
The Maui Wildfire: Were the Power Lines the Cause?
Hawaiian Electric responded to the lawsuit that blamed the utility for not shutting off the power despite strong winds by issuing a statement. The company shared that the complaint was legally and factually irresponsible. It also mentioned that the West Maui power lines had been de-energized for over 6 hours before the second blaze that started soon after.
For the first time in its statement, the company addressed the cause of the fire. The company revealed that the fire occurred on the morning of August 8th due to the power lines being affected by the strong winds. Additionally, the Associated Press also reported that the bare electrical wires, which were susceptible to fire sparks upon contact, along with the leaning poles, could also be accountable for the disaster.
Despite this data, Hawaiian Electric continued to blame Maui County for this devastation. The company claimed that the fire had reignited in the afternoon and spread through Lahaina downtown, resulting in 115 deaths and the destruction of 2,000 structures. There was no immediate response to Hawaiian Electric’s statement from lawyers or a county spokesperson.
Hawaiian Electric further explained that its crews had gone to the scene of the incident to make the necessary repairs. However, there were no embers, smoke, or fire present, and the area had experienced a power failure. It was around 3:00 p.m. when the crew noticed a small fire near the field and dialed 911.
According to the latest Maui fire update, the Associated Press assessed several images and videos that confirmed the wires were the cause of the morning fire. These wires were part of a power line network that the utility company left exposed to the natural elements, often surrounded by thick vegetation.
It is crucial to note that the utility company in question has close to 60,000 power poles, mostly made of wood. Documents presented by the company indicate that these power poles are now outdated. Most of the poles were learning because they had reached the end of their estimated lifespan. They did not meet Hawaii’s electric grid standards for withstanding winds of up to 105 miles per hour.
The Necessary Legal Recourse for Victims
The Maui wildfire caused nearly 1,000 people to go missing and affected numerous households. If you or anyone you know has been affected by this wildfire, it is essential to seek legal assistance. And embarking on this journey is not feasible without the guidance of an expert lawyer experienced in handling wildfire lawsuits.
TruLaw states that a lawyer’s involvement is crucial because it helps you understand your legal rights. The lawyer can also explain the potential grounds for filing a legal complaint. Victims must keep track of every piece of evidence, such as photographs, and share it with the lawyer so they can assess it and use it to build a strong case. This will help victims receive compensation for their damages.
Relief Initiatives for Maui Fire Victims
A natural catastrophe of this extent deserves aid and relief initiatives to recover the losses and damages. Today, FEMA and various other government agencies are making attempts to help the cause. We have the Red Cross accepting donations, along with other small non-profit organizations that are also trying to help.
The Salvation Army is doing a commendable job of feeding several people who were affected by the dangerous fire at Red Cross Shelters. To carry on this initiative, they are accepting substantial food donations from catering companies, restaurants, and many more.
One of the ideal ways to help is through a monetary contribution. Keeping this in mind, the Maui Food Bank has dedicated its entire website to relief initiatives for the wildfire.
Natural disasters are devastating and can take the lives of several people and demolish multiple buildings. There was a growing assumption that the Maui wildfire was caused by power lines and that Hawaiian Electric was accountable for it. The news reports have confirmed this and also highlighted the enormous loss that took place.
Victims who were affected by the wildfire should take on a legal resource and get compensated for their losses. It will help raise awareness and ensure that more people have the monetary resources to start their lives all over again after the damage caused by the fire.