OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
1:58 PM PT – Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Downed power lines may have sparked the wildfires that have ravaged across the Hawaiian island of Maui, otherwise known as one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S. history.
Despite the flames being somewhat contained, two fires continue to burn. As of Tuesday night the Lahaina Fire was at least 85% contained – with the Upcountry Fire at 75%.
At least 106 people have been killed due to the flames and teams continue to search for hundreds of loved ones who remain missing.
Some witnesses have come forward saying the fierce hurricane winds that fueled the blaze initially caused a utility pole to snap.
In footage authenticated by the Associated Press, Maui resident Shane Treu video taped a fire scorching through his neighborhood. Treu told the outlet he heard a popping sound from across the street and then saw a power line land in dry grass, starting a fire.
“They came up with a water truck, started dousing it,” Treu said. “So within a couple of hours they had that, which we thought was all contained and then from there just went ahead about our day thinking that it was all done, unbeknownst that later on this afternoon, the winds just continued to just smoke the whole day and I guess that’s what just fueled the restarting.”
The island state’s main energy provider, Hawaiian Electric, is now facing at least three lawsuits in connection with the blaze. They allege the company didn’t shut down power due to high winds despite being warned by the National Weather Service.
On Monday, Hawaiian Electric’s President and CEO Shelee Kimura said many factors play into shut off decisions, such as how the electricity in Lahaina powers the pumps that provide water.
“We will be doing our own investigation,” Kimura told reporters. “The state will be doing an investigation, we will cooperate fully in that. I think we all believe it’s important to understand what happened and I think we all believe it’s important to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Those looking to help those affected by the fires can donate to several organizations, including:
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