Hawaii starts probe into wildfire handling as toll hits 80

LAHAINA, UNITED STATES  -  Hawaii’s chief legal officer said Fri­day she was opening a probe into the handling of devastating wildfires that killed at least 80 people in the state this week, as criticism grows of the official response.

The announcement and increased death toll came as residents of La­haina were allowed back into the town for the first time -- with most finding their homes had been re­duced to ashes, and even the lucky few angry at a sense of abandon­ment. “Everything has been coconut wire,” said William Harry, referring to a system of rumours.

“One person heard, then told an­other, but it’s not official informa­tion. They don’t come here and ex­plain anything.”

Another man, who did not want to be named, told AFP he felt like he had been left to fend for himself.

“Where is the government? Where are they?” he fumed.

“This is insane. We can’t move freely, we don’t get the support, now we’ve heard about looting.”

Hawaii’s Attorney General Anne Lopez said her office would be ex­amining “critical decision-making and standing policies leading up to, during and after the wildfires on Maui and Hawai’i islands this week.”

“My department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review.”

Late Friday, Maui county officials gave an updated death toll from the disaster. “The number of fatalities is at 80,” the county said, adding that 1,418 people were at emergency evacuation shelters.

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