Hawaiian officials claim the primary cause of recent Maui wildfires is the state’s main power utility company failed to power down downed electrical equipment before a serious windstorm.
The charges come after several Democrats attributed the disaster to global warming, according to a Fox News report.
Maui County, Hawaii, Thursday filed suit against Hawaiian Electric Company alleging HECO and its subsidiaries did not properly prepare for a red flag windstorm earlier in the month.
As a result, downed power lines managed by the utility company sparked a series of fatal fires on the island.
“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,” stated Maui County in a release.
“The lawsuit further alleges HECO’s energized and downed power lines ignited dry fuel such as grass and brush, causing the fires,” the announcement continued.
“The lawsuit also alleges failure to maintain the system and power grid, which caused the systemic failures starting three different fires on August 8th.”
However, several Democratic lawmakers, including a top White House official and Gov. Josh Green (D-HI), attributed the event, which resulted in at least 115 deaths, to human-induced global warming.
“This is devastating. This is a climate emergency,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said August 10.
“I stand in solidarity with my friends and colleagues from Hawaii — we must act fast, provide aid, and invest in a resilient and safe future.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called the damage from Maui wildfires heartbreaking.
“Scientists are clear that climate chaos wreaking havoc on ecosystems everywhere is the new norm,” said Merkley. “We need to take action immediately or else it will get even worse.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) urged President Joe Biden to proclaim a “climate emergency” in light of the fires.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) described the wildfires as a “devastating view of our planet as we fail to adequately address the climate crisis.”
White House clean energy czar John Podesta emphasized the need for policies to reduce carbon emissions to combat future natural disasters like the Maui wildfires, which he believed were “fueled by climate change.”
Some experts challenged the notion that climate change was the primary factor behind the Maui fires.
They argue the event was largely due to years of inadequate forest and brush management, coupled with a decline in agriculture.
Such conditions, they suggest, enable fires to spread quickly and make them more challenging to control.
“Blaming this on weather and climate is misleading,” remarked Clay Trauernicht, a University of Hawaii at Manoa professor and environmental management specialist.
“Hawaii’s fire problem is due to the vast areas of unmanaged, nonnative grasslands from decades of declining agriculture,” continued Trauernicht.
“These savannas now cover about a million acres across the main Hawaiian Islands, mostly the legacy of land clearing for plantation agriculture and ranching in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The transformation to savanna makes the landscape way more sensitive to bad ‘fire weather’ — hot, dry, windy conditions. It also means we get huge buildups of fuels during rainy periods.”