NewsNational NewsScripps News

Actions

Exposed wires, leaning poles could have caused fatal Maui fires

The exposed wires were part of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s extensive network.
Exposed wires, leaning poles could have caused fatal Maui fires
Posted at 3:37 PM, Aug 26, 2023

At the outset of the Maui fires, strong winds knocked down power poles and caused exposed wires to strike dry grass and spark fires upon contact.

The exposed wires were part of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s extensive network, the Associated Press confirmed after analyzing footage of the bared wires left unattended on the dense foliage, despite being warned to cover them up or bury them.

According to the report, the power poles on Maui were constructed according to outdated 1960s specifications. These poles were leaning, approaching the end of their expected lifespan, and nowhere close to meeting national standards.

SEE MORE: Hawaiian Electric sued over Maui fires

In a 2019 filing, it was noted that the replacement of the aging poles had been delayed due to other priorities and warned that not changing them would be a "serious public hazard" if they "failed." Something Hawaiian Electric says they have tried to handle.

"We've been executing on a resilience strategy to meet these challenges, and since 2018, we have spent approximately $950 million to strengthen and harden our grid and approximately $110 million on vegetation management efforts," the company told the Associated Press. "This work included replacing more than 12,500 poles and structures since 2018 and trimming and removing trees along approximately 2,500 line miles every year on average."

However, Jennifer Potter, a former member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, confirmed to the AP the deteriorated state of Maui's wooden power poles.

Hawaiian Electric is now facing multiple lawsuits linking it to the wildfires.


Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com