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Maui County says Hawaiian Electric caused deadly blazes in new lawsuit

A downed power line in front of burned homes.
Downed power lines block a road as people feed chickens outside a burnt home in the aftermath of a wildfire in Lahaina, western Maui, Hawaii, on August 11th, 2023. | Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

Maui County has filed suit against Hawaiian Electric, alleging that the utility is responsible for catastrophic damages from wildfires that tore through Maui this month.

The utility “acted negligently by failing to power down their electrical equipment despite a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning” on August 7th, Maui County alleges. The suit says Hawaiian Electric’s downed power lines, while still energized, caused the fire by igniting dry grass and brush. It also alleges that the utility failed to maintain the power grid, causing “systemic failures” that sparked three blazes on August 8th. The county is suing for civil damages affecting public property.

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