Maui County has launched a legal battle against Hawaiian Electric, accusing the utility of negligence in its handling of the catastrophic Lahaina wildfires. The county alleges that the company failed to deactivate its electrical equipment despite extreme weather conditions.
“This destruction could have been avoided,” the lawsuit said.
The electric utility knew that high winds “would topple power poles, knock down power lines, and ignite vegetation,” the lawsuit claimed. “Defendants also knew that if their overhead electrical equipment ignited a fire, it would spread at a critically rapid rate.”
The legal action, submitted to Hawaii’s Second Circuit Court, accuses the electric firm of failing “to properly maintain and repair the electric transmission lines, and other equipment including utility poles associated with their transmission of electricity, and to keep vegetation properly trimmed and maintained so as to prevent contact with overhead power lines and other electric equipment.”
Legal representatives contend that downed, energized power lines “ignited dry fuel such as grass and brush, causing the fires.” These fires erupted on August 8, resulting in a minimum of 115 deaths and the obliteration of over 2,200 buildings.
An extended drought had rendered vegetation, including “invasive grasses,” extremely dry. When Hurricane Dora moved