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Maui County Files Lawsuit Against Hawaiian Electric Alleging Utility Was Negligent Prior To Wildfires

Maui County filed a lawsuit against four electric companies, claiming they were responsible for a deadly wildfire by not powering down equipment.

The county government accused Maui Electric Company, Limited, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. of failing to shut down equipment on Aug. 7, when the National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning, ABC News reported. The deadly wildfire that destroyed many buildings in the town of Lahaina on Aug. 8, killed at least 114 people and left hundreds missing.

A “red flag warning” is issued when low humidity, strong winds, and high temperatures cause an increased risk of fire, according to the National Weather Service.

“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,” the county government said in a Thursday release. “These damages include losses to public infrastructure, fire response costs, losses to revenues, increased costs, environmental damages, and losses of historical or cultural landmarks.”

The county said that the wildfire burned over 3,000 acres on the island and caused over $5.5 billion in damage in the release.

Video posted on showed people fleeing into the ocean to escape the fire, which destroyed many cultural artifacts in the city that once served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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