Hawaiian Electric May Bear Responsibility for the Maui Wildfires
Jan 15, 2024
The Maui wildfires made headlines around the world in August 2023. With tens of thousands of acres burned, over 100 lives lost, and hundreds still displaced, many questions remain about who should be held responsible for the tragedy.
While natural forces certainly played a role in the death and destruction that unfolded on the tropical island, human error is also a factor.
Power company Hawaiian Electric has already admitted that its actions in part contributed to the island fires. Investigations are still pending into just how much responsibility the electric provider will bear.
Understanding Natural Causes of the Maui Wildfires
The Maui wildfires began raging on August 8, 2023. In mere hours the fires spread across thousands of acres. Over three days, nearly 19,000 acres were burned. Over 100 individuals lost their lives, an estimated 3,000 pets went missing, and around 2,200 buildings were destroyed.
Several factors contributed to the swift spread of the Maui wildfires. Some of these were uncontrollable and caused by weather conditions. At the time the fires began, a significant portion of the island was under severe drought conditions, with still more under significant drought conditions.
At the same time, strong winds swept in from Hurricane Dora. As the fires began blazing, the combination of hurricane winds and drought conditions caused the blaze to quickly grow beyond control.
The Role of Hawaiian Electric
While weather conditions created an environment that resulted in more destruction than might have otherwise been seen, the question remains: What was the role of human error in the deadly Maui wildfires? According to preliminary investigations, it’s possible negligence may have played a considerable role.
Hawaiian Electric was aware that its power lines posed a safety risk. Despite this knowledge, the company needed to catch up on its plan to replace tens of thousands of utility poles. The initial blaze on Maui was the result of one of these faulty lines.
According to reports, the power company’s insurance policy would come nowhere close to covering the claims over wrongful death, personal injury, and property damage that might be headed its way. As a result, the company may be considering bankruptcy if it is formally deemed at fault for the fires.
Getting Help From a Wildfire Attorney
The jury is still out on which party will be held responsible for the financial damage of the Maui wildfires.
While it’s clear that negligence by Hawaiian Electric played a role in the initial blaze, the electric company has disavowed itself of fault for the tragedy.
Instead, the company has pointed the finger at Maui County for declaring the blaze extinguished shortly before it was rekindled.
Legal proceedings are still unfolding in the attempt to serve justice for the victims of the Maui wildfires. Given the many legal factors at play, it’s clear that survivors hoping for financial justice need legal representation with specialized knowledge.
If you need help recovering your losses from the Maui fire, your best option is to seek out a U.S. mass tort wildfire attorney who is also prepared to handle a mass tort bankruptcy claim.