Maui wildfire: Hawaiian Electric says power lines started a fire on the morning of Aug. 8, but not the Lahaina fire in the afternoon


The Hawaii Electric Company said downed power lines due to high winds appeared to have caused the fire in the early morning of August 8, but that power lines had been deactivated in western Maui for more than six hours by the time the fire started the second afternoon in the area. Lahaina

The company made the comments at New responsese Sunday to a lawsuit filed by the District of Maui.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the county of Maui alleged that the power company, known as HECO, “kept its power lines unwarrantedly energized” in early August, even though the National Weather Service issued a high wind warning and fire warning. .

Utilities state that the cause of the fire that afternoon has yet to be determined. The fire that afternoon developed into an inferno, killing at least 115 people and damaging or destroying more than 2,000 buildings.

In a press release, HECO said videos show power lines falling to the ground due to high winds near the intersection of Lahinaluna Road and Hucahua Street at around 6:30 a.m. But the fire that morning was declared 100% contained by the Maui County Fire Department by 9 a.m., they said.

The HECO press release explains: “Once the fire was extinguished, Hawaiian Electric emergency crews arrived at Lahainaluna Road on the afternoon of August 8 to carry out repairs; And they saw neither fire nor smoke nor embers. All lines to Lahaina remained out of power and all electricity in the area remained out.

Shortly before 3 p.m., while the power remained out, HECO said its crew members saw a small fire about 75 yards off Lahinaluna Road in the field near the middle school. The statement says they immediately called 911 and reported the fire.

By the time the Maui County Fire Department returned to the scene, they were unable to contain the fire, and it had spread out of control towards Lahaina, the statement said.

In a statement to CNN Monday, John Fisk, the attorney representing the District of Maui in the lawsuit, said, “To the extent HECO has information on a second ignition source, HECO must now provide that evidence. Ultimate responsibility rests with HECO to deactivate energy, ensuring that its equipment and systems are properly maintained, and ensuring that downed power lines are not energized.

CNN asked Fiske to explain why it believed Hawaiian Electric had information on a second ignition source but did not immediately receive a response.

“We were surprised and disappointed that the District of Maui rushed to court even before completing its own investigation,” said Shelly Kimura, President and CEO of HECO. We believe the complaint is factually and legally irresponsible. It runs counter to the course we believe we should take as a resilient community that is committed and responsible to each other as well as to the future of Hawaii. And we continue to prepare to work toward this end with our communities and others. Unfortunately, the county’s lawsuit may leave us with no choice but to show the legal system its responsibility for what happened that day.

Kimura also said there are important lessons everyone can learn from this tragedy, and “we are determined to know what we need to do to keep our communities safe as climate issues rapidly worsen here and around the world. We call on others to do the same for us.” .

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