(RepublicanNews.org) – Allegations of negligence have led to a lawsuit being filed against Hawaiian Electric, the company that was at the wheel of Maui’s electrical grid when the island’s deadly wildfires hit. Maui County chose to move ahead with legal action on August 24th after determining that the electrical provider had carelessly failed to stop the flow of current to power lines amidst excessively windy and dry conditions.
Post-witness accounts as well as videos taken by locals appear to show downed lines sparking at least a portion of the fires that would later go on to engulf Lahaina. In some cases, winds were so high that they reportedly snapped poles in two, as opposed to merely blowing them over.
The inferno that began on August 8th has claimed at least 115 victims, though the FBI has acknowledged that up to 1,100 individuals remain on an unconfirmed list of missing persons. Based on Lahaina’s population of 12,000, a full 9 percent of residents remain unaccounted for.
On August 21st, the area’s mayor refused to provide reporters with either a tally or an estimate for the number of children that remained missing. The heated exchange went viral on Twitter after a reporter in attendance alleged that the mayor was intentionally withholding an estimate from the press. The mayor responded by threatening to shut the Q&A down.
In their lawsuit, Maui County said that were it not for Hawaiian Electric’s dereliction, the devastation “could have been avoided.” The provider has a near-monopoly on the islands and reportedly services 95 percent of that state’s 1.4 million residents.
According to the lawsuit, Maui County alleges that HE failed to “properly” trim “vegetation” in the vicinity of “transmission lines.” It says that administrators also knew lines would be toppled in the face of high winds and that the ensuing result of those downed lines would be fires that moved at a “critically rapid rate.”
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