LOS ANGELES-Maui County is suing Hawaii’s electricity company over the deadly fire that leveled Lahaina, alleging the destruction could have been avoided if power lines had been shut off.
The lawsuit is the latest step in a growing critical focus on the power provider in the wake of the blaze, which killed at least 115 people, with videos apparently showing downed cables setting light to vegetation in the hours before tragedy struck. The lawsuit says there was plenty of warning of strong winds from a nearby hurricane, but Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries negligently kept power lines live.
“These power lines foreseeably ignited the fast-moving, deadly, and destructive Lahaina Fire, which completely destroyed residences, businesses, churches, schools, and historic cultural sites,” the lawsuit, filed Thursday, says. “Defendants knew that the high winds the (National Weather Service) predicted would topple power poles, knock down power lines, and ignite vegetation.