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Hawaiian utility company clashes with Maui County over deadly Lahaina fire

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Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. shares surged up to 52% following its refutation against Maui County’s lawsuit, which attributed the tragic Lahaina fire to the utility.


The company contends that the afternoon fire in Lahaina began several hours after its power lines had been deactivated. This defense comes in light of the lawsuit’s claims that the company had not implemented safety precautions, such as cutting power to contain the fire. Shelee Kimura, the CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), criticized Maui County for its hasty legal action, deeming the complaint “factually and legally irresponsible.”

While the utility admits that an earlier fire on August 8 was probably initiated by its power lines falling due to strong winds, it emphasized that its crew saw another fire erupt near the original site in the afternoon, long after their lines had been switched off. They also noted that the Maui County Fire Department had declared the initial fire completely “contained” by 9 a.m. that day. However, the county remains firm, urging HECO to present evidence of a secondary ignition source. The legal dispute could determine the responsibility for a devastating fire that obliterated the historic Lahaina town, resulted in over 115 fatalities, and incurred damages exceeding $5.5 billion.



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