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The Cardinal Column

Maui Fires

Maui+Fires

By: Brady Shafer

On the morning of Aug. 8, multiple devastating blazes emerged in the dried grasslands across Maui, Hawaii’s second-largest island. The wildfires swept across Maui reaching a death toll of 115 and left 66 people unaccounted for as of Sept. 13th..

The earliest sighting of a fire was reported on Aug. 7th, in which a bright light was captured on a security camera outside of the Maui Bird Conservation Center. The flash seen from the camera’s appears to be an “arc flash,” when a powerline is struck or falls.

Amidst the first sightings of fire, Hawaiian Electric’s power grid had been experiencing malfunctions in its power output. Maui’s lasting dry condition allowed for the start of a fire. The island had been experiencing strong winds from a passing hurricane south of Hawaii, encouraging the growth of the flame. 

The fires have burned through over 2,500 acres of land. Historic sites and large towns were completely destroyed in the series of fires across Maui. They forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes. As of Aug. 10, the fires were considered contained and burned to their end.

Initially, missing people reports reached over 1,000 with the misplacement and separation of families and residents. Many businesses and properties were consumed by the spreading fires. The cost to rebuild will exceed 5 billion dollars. 

Currently, 95 million dollars in federal aid is being issued to Maui for those impacted by the fires. Some residents have been able to return home, however, others aren’t so lucky. Those unable to return have resorted to the shelters provided by the American Red Cross.

As of now, Maui County has filed a lawsuit on Hawaiian Electric alleging that they were negligent in not shutting off their power grid, and in their maintenance of the company’s power poles and lines.

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Brady Shafer, Journalist
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