Video: Maui wildfires caused by downed powerlines

Originally published at: Video: Maui wildfires caused by downed powerlines | Boing Boing


That sounds familiar. I wonder if the Hawaiian company has the bucks to avoid criminal prosecution for it’s part in causing this horror.


The PG&E settlement was due to the fact the line was brought down by a large tree they knew was a danger, had marked for removal, and then did nothing about.

I’m not sure this is the same. They’ll have to prove the power company knew their lines were in some danger of being blown over by near hurricane force winds and did nothing to prevent it. Seems far less likely.

EDIT: spoke too soon, seems lawsuits have already begun (see next poster)


Trouble in paradise…

  • Three lawsuits alleges that Hawaiian Electric failed to shut off power as its electrical poles collapsed in high winds.
  • One lawsuit alleges that Maui County failed to activate emergency sirens once the blaze spread.
  • Several law firms with wildfire litigation expertise are investigating the cause of the Hawaii disaster.



Depressingly but predictably the ‘truthers’ are already on it: Space lasers, naturally.


A number of states have plans in place to preemptively shut off power in high-wind situations. According to this article (and the class-action lawsuit) there are documents showing that Hawaiian Electric was aware of the risks and knew that this was an effective way to deal with it, but had still not chosen to adopt this strategy yet, and had no formal shutoff plans.


Here in California PGE didn’t do any of things they do now, until they were sued. Every power company in the country should take stock.


Did it also spark the ones in the middle of the island?

It’s almost like we should invest in infrastructure…

I thought it was from this GIANT hook or clasp that held the heavy high electric wires up had worn all the way down and broke from years of it rubbing in the wind.

Or maybe that was a separate issue they had. Shit that 100% could have been avoided.

There was a bad wind storm a month and a half or so ago here. And this being an older area, we have big trees and above ground lines. They really should be making programs to bury these things.

I listened to the dispatch feed for awhile and it sparked off numerous fires.


isn’t part of the problem that they have stock? :cat2:


The final death toll is probably going to be much higher. =( I think there’s close to a thousand people missing still.


Infrastructure that is the real problem. It always seems on Maui there are two competing forces… developers who want to build Condos and resorts and then the people who want absolutely nothing built to maintain the “character/isolation”. The compromise? always seems to be the same. The condos get built the roads and infrastructure necessary do not.


My insurance company told me to trim my trees back if I wanted to keep my insurance. Maybe they will do the same to the power companies? Maybe the PUC will put some pressure on them? Or we can keep suing them.


This seems like a gross mischaracterization. The second group you mention just wants Hawaii to be liveable for Hawaiian people rather than have multi-generational residents live as second-class citizens at the whim of developers and tourists.


Yeah, or a big shorting pole that falls across the lines if they’re dropped into the woods and yet not shut off otherwise. Fixed that for ya, local Power Co! (I mean, 4 other cheaper ways of doing that, but also yes that.)

What’s the case for building things (like fire-safe shelter basements, parking etc.) dug into the island? Is it like there can be a whammy vein of magma that just wasn’t warming things much somehow?

Trivial to say that microgrid construction with solar on all the things would be a rebuilding priority? Or are keas and other large birds too wont to wreck the Achilles’s Heel of the panel wiring?


… gee, maybe this technology should be upgraded more than once every hundred years


According to this meteorologist, it was a high amplitude atmospheric wave (high winds) that knocked down the power lines that caused the fire.


Excited The Wave GIF by Rachael Ray Show


It’s not a gross mischaracterization. It’s lumping a lot of people together. Some of which fit your characterization and many that don’t. Ultimately it doesn’t matter b/c the result is we end up with over burdened infrastructure. There simply aren’t enough roads into and out of many communities to support the number of folks there. Doesn’t matter how well intentioned or not some of the people are.

According to the company and the lawsuit filing against them, the fire hydrants in Lahaina depend on electric water pumps.

Presumably that means that turning off the power preemptively would make it difficult to fight fires if they started another way, which seems like a serious planning f’ck up.

I went through some of the documents that are cited about them knowing it something like the California Public Safety Power Shutoffs was effective and they definitely point to it, but I couldn’t find anything suggesting doing the same.

One document cited was a request for approval to spend money hardening the power grid against disasters, which not only mentioned it as being part of a comprehensive solution, but also mentioned how expensive the liability for PG&E was for the fires, yet then only requested approval to do things like reinforcing utility poles (which admittedly, might have helped, but approval looks like it has been stuck in committee for over a year).

I don’t see the point of private power companies, or really private anything, where natural monopolies exist. The state should just take the whole thing over.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.