Maui County says Hawaiian Electric caused deadly blazes in new lawsuit

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.

The investor-owned utility provides electricity to 95 percent of customers in Hawaii. This isn’t the first suit it’s faced in the aftermath of the blazes. At least two class action lawsuits have already been filed against Hawaiian Electric, each blaming the utility’s downed power lines for sparking deadly infernos. Videos taken by Maui residents are expected to become key evidence against Hawaiian Electric.