At the time this was written on Monday evening, the death toll for Maui’s devastating wildfire sat at 96. Hundreds of people are still missing so when you read this the number will no doubt be much higher.
Like the wildfires that have destroyed thousands of homes on the West coast — and especially California — officials and victims are looking at a power company as the cause of the devastation.
One lawsuit has already been filed against Hawaiian Electric Industries. It supplies 95 percent of Maui’s power. According to a class-action lawsuit filed on Monday evening, the company ignored weather warnings and failed to cut power to residents when hurricane-force winds from Hurricane Dora hit the island.
The suit has been filed by LippSmith LLP, Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis LLP and Robertson & Associates LLP. It was filed on behalf of Monica and Rede Eder and other homeowners of Lahaina. They contend the power company had plenty of warning from the National Weather Service that Dora’s winds were going to be troublesome, and that those winds could knock down power lines and fuel a fire.
But Hawaiian Electric Industries kept power on and that decision — the plaintiffs contend — “caused loss of life, serious injuries, destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, displacement of thousands of people, and damage to many of Hawaii’s historic and cultural sites.”
And — again, at the time this is written, 96 people died.
“Other victims suffered severe burns, smoke inhalation and additional serious injuries,” the suit filing continued. “The fire decimated the entire historic town of Lahaina, as homes, businesses, churches, schools, and cultural sites burned to the ground. Only ashes of those structures remain.”
Three other companies are looking at Hawaiian Electric, too. Mikal Watts of Watts Guerra is one of them.
“All evidence — videos, witness accounts, burn progression, and utility equipment remaining — points to Hawaiian Electric’s equipment being the ignition source of the fire that devastated Lahaina,” Watts said.
Another serious issue is the island’s warning system. Hawaii House of Representatives Democrat, Jill Tokuda said the warning system failed.
“Sadly, tragically, in this situation, those sirens, likely did not go off,” she said. “The warning signals that were on cell phones, we had no cell coverage or electricity in some of these areas.”
Though one suit has been filed and more are on the way, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said it’s still too early to determine what caused the fire. He said his office and the state attorney general are conducting a thorough study to make that determination.
The governor urged patience and said the investigation could take a long time.
“The largest force at play that night were 80 mile-per-hour winds. That created an incredibly intense and dangerous circumstance,” Green said. “Having seen that storm, we have doubts that much could have been done with a fast-moving fire like that.”
Meanwhile, officials say 2,207 structures on the island were damaged or destroyed and the losses could top $1 billion.
Source link: New York Post — https://nypost.com/2023/08/14/hawaiian-electric-faces-lawsuit-over-deadly-maui-wildfires/
Source link: Insurance Journal — https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2023/08/14/735249.htm