Hawaiian Electric (HE) has revealed that it de-energized all of its power lines six hours before the deadly wildfires tore through the community on August 8.
The HE statement directly contradicts the government’s claims that the wildfires were sparked by active power lines and raises questions about the real cause of the fires.
“We were surprised and disappointed that the County of Maui rushed to court even before completing its own investigation,” HE CEO Shelee Kimura said. “We believe the complaint is factually and legally irresponsible.”
She went on to slam the lawsuits as “inconsistent with the path that we believe we should pursue as a resilient community committed and accountable to each other as well as to Hawaiʻi’s future,” and warned that it “may leave [the company] no choice in the legal system but to show [the county’s] responsibility for what happened that day.”
As Reuters reports, Maui county claimed in its lawsuit that the “severe and catastrophic” losses incurred as a result of the wildfires “could have easily been prevented” if HE had moved to shut down power at the proper time.
The energy company’s stock suffered in the days following the lawsuit, however Sunday’s news release brought shares back up when trading resumed on Monday.
Wildfires in Lahaina and beyond claimed the lives of over 100 people and caused billions in damage. The origin of the wildfires has not yet been determined, though Hawaii has since brought in an outside investigator to get to the bottom of things.