Lawsuits have accused Hawaiian Electric power lines of igniting and exacerbating wildfires that destroyed thousands of acres on Maui. (Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii via Courthouse News)
Maui County claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Maui Circuit Court that Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries, the Maui Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Company and Hawaiian Electric Industries, negligently maintained its power lines, allowing the Aug. 8 wildfires to grow to consume over 3000 acres of land on Maui.
The county seeks damages for the loss of its natural resources and public lands, along with the costs of emergency operations, like shelters, evacuations, and fire suppression services. Maui also seeks to hold the utility liable for visitor and commercial industry losses, the compromising of its public infrastructure and water contamination.
Federal agents have been dispatched to the island to investigate the cause of the fires, though no official cause has been determined yet. Speculation for the cause, though, has revolved around Hawaiian Electric’s power lines. It was reported that around 30 power lines had been knocked down in the winds, with some of them blocking routes out of Lahaina.