stock here: I wonder how much of that figure these criminals are planning to skim off for themselves?
Hawaii State Attorney General to Decide on What Information to Release Publicly Regarding Maui Wildfire to “Protect the Integrity” of the Investigation (VIDEO)
Hawaii State Attorney General Anne E. Lopez has decided to withhold initial findings from the public regarding the massive Maui wildfires that took place on Aug. 8.
This move is purportedly to “protect the integrity” of the ongoing investigation, according to a statement from the Department of the Attorney General. The decision has raised concerns about the transparency of the investigation, as local residents question whether this “independent investigation” will indeed remain impartial.
Attorney General Anne E. Lopez announced the hiring of the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), a nonprofit organization, as an independent third-party to conduct the investigation. FSRI, which is contracted with Underwriters Laboratories Inc., has been granted subpoena power under HRS 28-2.5, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The team of investigators includes former firefighters, fire scientists, and incident commanders. They are tasked to assess how state and county agencies prepared and responded to the devastating wildfire.
“I am committed to an independent, unbiased, and transparent investigation into government actions during the fires. This type of investigation is a hallmark of a healthy democratic society and will lead to improved responsiveness and resilience in the future, ” Lopez told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“All state and county agencies answer to the people of Hawaii, and I fully expect that they all will voluntarily give interviews and provide documents relevant to the investigation.”
According to news outlet, “FSRI’s team of former firefighters, including inspectors, fire scientists and incident commanders, started work on Maui on Aug. 24 and are updating Lopez and her team every two weeks, with the first update coming last week.”
While the state Attorney General has promised transparency, questions about impartiality remain, given that Lopez’s office will have the final say on what information to release publicly—at least initially.
Per Hawaii News Now, the state attorney issued a statement:
The Attorney General is committed to a full, comprehensive, and transparent investigation, with the reports of that investigation shared with the public. While we will not speculate as to future hypothetical circumstances, we note that in any investigation, publicly revealing some information prematurely could compromise other aspects of the investigation that remain ongoing. In any investigation, information may be withheld temporarily to protect the integrity of the investigatory process.
Local residents and critics express concern that this investigation might not be as independent as it’s being made out to be. One Maui resident who lost her home in the fire questioned the investigation’s legitimacy, stating, “There have been many broken promises. How do the people of Lahaina really trust that?”
WATCH: (Courtesy of Hawaii News Now)
The Gateway Pundit previously reported that a high-stakes blame game is unfolding in Hawaii as Hawaiian Electric vehemently denies causing the recent fires that engulfed parts of Maui. The company released a comprehensive statement after Maui County officials accused it of failing to properly manage electrical equipment during a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning, leading to catastrophic fires.
Maui officials had earlier put the blame squarely on Hawaiian Electric, citing downed power lines as the source of the fire that has now engulfed thousands of acres and led to evacuations across the island.
Maui County has officially filed a lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and its subsidiaries, claiming negligence on the part of the utility.
Maui County released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
The County of Maui filed a lawsuit against Maui Electric Company, Limited, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. for civil damages caused to the County’s public property and resources caused by recent Maui fires, including fires in Lāhainā and in Kula. The lawsuit was filed in the Second Circuit Court and the case number is 2CCV-23-0000238.
The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants acted negligently by failing to power down their electrical equipment despite a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning on August 7th. The lawsuit further alleges HECO’s energized and downed power lines ignited dry fuel such as grass and brush, causing the fires. The lawsuit also alleges failure to maintain the system and power grid, which caused the systemic failures starting three different fires on August 8th.
Maui County stands alongside the people and communities of Lāhainā and Kula to recover public resource damages and rebuild after these devastating utility-caused fires. These damages include losses to public infrastructure, fire response costs, losses to revenues, increased costs, environmental damages, and losses of historical or cultural landmarks.
HECO is a for-profit, investor-owned utility that trades publicly on the New York Stock Exchange serving 95% of the Hawai’i customer base.
The fires in Lāhainā and Kula burned over 3,000 acres and destroyed more than 2,200 structures, causing an estimated $5.5 billion in damage or more.
The County is represented by Corporation Counsel Victoria J. Takayesu, Deputy Corporation Counsel Thomas Kolbe, and by outside counsel John Fiske of Baron & Budd, P.C., Ed Diab of Diab Chambers, LLP, and L. Richard Fried of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks. Baron & Budd and Diab Chambers have been selected by public entities 95 times to recover civil damages in wildfire cases.
In a detailed rebuttal, Shelee Kimura, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, said, “We were surprised and disappointed that the County of Maui rushed to court even before completing its own investigation. We believe the complaint is factually and legally irresponsible.”
“It is inconsistent with the path that we believe we should pursue as a resilient community committed and accountable to each other as well as to Hawaii’s future. We continue to stand ready to work to that end with our communities and others. Unfortunately, the county’s lawsuit may leave us no choice in the legal system but to show its responsibility for what happened that day,” Kimura added.
The company outlined key events, stating:
- A fire at 6:30 a.m. (the “Morning Fire”) appears to have been caused by power lines that fell in high winds.
- The Maui County Fire Department responded to this fire, reported it was “100% contained,” left the scene and later declared it had been “extinguished.”
- At about 3 p.m., a time when all of Hawaiian Electric’s power lines in West Maui had been de-energized for more than six hours, a second fire (the “Afternoon Fire”) began in the same area.
- The cause of the devastating Afternoon Fire has not been determined.
Additional details are outlined below, according to the news release:
- The records conclusively establish that Hawaiian Electric power lines to Lahaina were not energized when the Afternoon Fire broke out shortly before 3 p.m. on Aug. 8, in a field near Lahaina Intermediate School. Power had been out for more than six hours by that time. There was no electricity flowing through the wires in the area or anywhere else on the West Maui coast. Hawaiian Electric has informed ATF investigators of the availability of records that demonstrate these facts.
- The small Morning Fire, seen in videos taken by local residents, began more than eight hours earlier. Those videos show that power lines had fallen to the ground in high winds near the intersection of Lahainaluna Road and Hookahua Street at approximately 6:30 a.m. A small fire that can be seen by the downed lines spread into the field across the street from the Intermediate School.
- The Maui County Fire Department responded promptly to the Morning Fire. According to the Department’s public statement that morning, by 9 a.m. the Morning Fire was “100% contained.” The Maui County fire chief subsequently reported that the Fire Department had determined that the Morning Fire was “extinguished,” and the Fire Department left the scene by 2 p.m.
- Once the fire was out, Hawaiian Electric emergency crews arrived at Lahainaluna Road in the afternoon of Aug. 8 to make repairs; they saw no fire or smoke or embers. All lines to Lahaina remained de-energized and all power in the area remained off.
- Shortly before 3 p.m., while the power remained off, our crew members saw a small fire about 75 yards away from Lahainaluna Road in the field near the Intermediate School. They immediately called 911 and reported that fire.
- By the time the Maui County Fire Department arrived back on the scene, it was not able to contain the Afternoon Fire and it spread out of control toward Lahaina.