Hawaiian Electric Soars After Statement: Power Lines "De-Energized" When Fire Started

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Aug 28, 2023 - 02:15 PM

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. surged as much as 43% in premarket trading in New York after the utility released a statement: their power lines were de-energized for more than six hours in Lahaina when the "Afternoon Fire" broke out on Aug. 8 that ultimately leveled the resort town in West Maui.

Just last week, Maui County slapped Hawaiian Electric with a lawsuit, accusing the utility of negligence that sparked the devastating wildfire that leveled Lahaina and killed more than 100 people, with hundreds still missing. 

"We were surprised and disappointed that the County of Maui rushed to court even before completing its own investigation," said Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric. 

Kimura said, "We believe the complaint is factually and legally irresponsible. It is 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. We continue to stand ready to work to that end with our communities and others. Unfortunately, the county's lawsuit may leave us no choice in the legal system but to show its responsibility for what happened that day."

Shares of Hawaiian Electric surged as much as 43% in premarket trading. 

But still well down from the start of the fire...

Hawaiian Electric outlines important facts about what happened on Aug. 8: 

  • A fire at 6:30 a.m. (the "Morning Fire") appears to have been caused by power lines that fell in high winds.

  • The Maui County Fire Department responded to this fire, reported it was "100% contained," left the scene and later declared it had been "extinguished."

  • At about 3 p.m., a time when all of Hawaiian Electric's power lines in West Maui had been de-energized for more than six hours, a second fire (the "Afternoon Fire") began in the same area.

  • The cause of the devastating Afternoon Fire has not been determined.

The utility provided more details about the fire: 

  • The records conclusively establish that Hawaiian Electric power lines to Lahaina were not energized when the Afternoon Fire broke out shortly before 3 p.m. on Aug. 8, in a field near Lahaina Intermediate School. Power had been out for more than six hours by that time. There was no electricity flowing through the wires in the area or anywhere else on the West Maui coast. Hawaiian Electric has informed ATF investigators of the availability of records that demonstrate these facts.

  • The small Morning Fire, seen in videos taken by local residents, began more than eight hours earlier. Those videos show that power lines had fallen to the ground in high winds near the intersection of Lahainaluna Road and Hoʻokahua Street at approximately 6:30 a.m. A small fire that can be seen by the downed lines spread into the field across the street from the Intermediate School.

  • The Maui County Fire Department responded promptly to the Morning Fire. According to the Department's public statement that morning, by 9 a.m. the Morning Fire was "100% contained." The Maui County fire chief subsequently reported that the Fire Department had determined that the Morning Fire was "extinguished," and the Fire Department left the scene by 2 p.m.

  • Once the fire was out, Hawaiian Electric emergency crews arrived at Lahainaluna Road in the afternoon of Aug. 8 to make repairs; they saw no fire or smoke or embers. All lines to Lahaina remained de-energized and all power in the area remained off.

  • Shortly before 3 p.m., while the power remained off, our crew members saw a small fire about 75 yards away from Lahainaluna Road in the field near the Intermediate School. They immediately called 911 and reported that fire.

  • By the time the Maui County Fire Department arrived back on the scene, it was not able to contain the Afternoon Fire and it spread out of control toward Lahaina.

"The county's lawsuit distracts from the important work that needs to be done for the people of Lahaina and Maui," said Scott Seu, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric.

What distraction could that be? 

Here are the following eight questions that we should all be asking about the fires in Hawaii right now…

#1 How did the fires start?  Governor Green is convinced that they were caused by a confluence of factors.  Do you buy his explanation?

Echoing wildfire experts, Gov. Green said Friday that he believes a confluence of weather conditions contributed to the ignition and spread of the blazes.

“It is a product, in my estimation, of certainly global warming combined with drought, combined with a super storm, where we had a hurricane offshore several hundred miles, still generating large winds,” Green told CNN.

#2 How did the fires spread so rapidly?  According to multiple news reports, people were literally jumping into the ocean to escape because the fires were moving so rapidly…

With fires raging on Maui, two men felt there was nowhere to escape the flames – except for the ocean.

The two men live in Lahaina, a historic part of Maui loved by tourists, which appears to be heavily damaged by this week’s raging fire. They described a terrifying scene as they evacuated from Prison Street, right in the heart of Lahaina.

“I saw a couple people just running, I heard screams out of hell … explosions. It felt like we were in hell, it really was. It was just indescribable,” one of the men told Nexstar’s KHON.

#3 How did a fire that was supposedly “out” end up causing the most damage of all?  According to  Governor Green, the Lahaina fire was supposedly given new energy “by far-off Hurricane Dora”

After first erupting early Tuesday, the fire was initially deemed to be out, but winds whipped up by far-off Hurricane Dora that reached up to 81 mph fanned the flames and spurred the blaze to travel about 1 mile every minute, Green said.

#4 According to U.S. Representative Jill Tokuda, the alarm system that is supposed to warn residents that a disaster is happening appears to have failed.  How is that possible?…

We know everybody who’s ever lived in Hawaii knows the warning sirens. It goes off once a month at the beginning of the month at 12 noon, and it blares and if it doesn’t, it gets fixed, because that is our first line of defense. Unfortunately, in this situation, sadly, tragically in this situation, those sirens likely did not go off. The warning signals that were on cell phones, we had no cell coverage or electricity in some of these areas. And the reality is with those warning signs, it tells all of us to turn on the television or look at our phones or turn on the radio. The reality is was how fast this burn was. And you could see it in the videos that survivors were showing me. You could see it in the wreckage. If you turned on your phone, you turned on a radio, if you even could. Remember things were out at that particular point, you would not know what the crisis was.

#5 Why are emergency supplies not getting to the people that desperately need them?  It is being reported that a “telecommunications blackout” has been one of the factors that has been hampering relief efforts…

But an enduring telecommunications blackout hampered government and grassroots efforts to distribute those supplies in the worst-affected neighborhoods, especially for an unknown number of survivors waiting out the aftermath in the few buildings still standing in the historic town of Lahaina and neighborhoods on the outskirts.

With their vehicles burned to a crisp, some sheltering at home have no way to drive to distribution centers miles away, or their cars have run out of gas. Others simply don’t know where to go for help. Toxic fumes and downed power lines with live wires make venturing outdoors dangerous.

#6 Why are people that have just had their homes burned down in the fires already being bombarded with calls with offers to purchase their properties?

The vultures are circling, and it appears that there are some people out there that are extremely interested in scooping up land inexpensively.

#7 Why has the FBI moved a “mobile refrigerated morgue” into Lahaina?…

A mobile refrigerated morgue has been brought to the devastated town of Lahaina as Maui officials continue their search for victims of the worst U.S. wildfire in 100 years.

The death toll on Sunday rose to 96, but Hawaii officials said it was likely to rise significantly.

John Pelletier, the Maui police chief, said only three percent of Lahaina – home to more than 9,000 people – had been searched so far.

#8 Why is Joe Biden lounging on the beach while all of this is happening?…

Outraged Americans blasting President @JoeBiden after he said ‘no comment’ when asked about the catastrophic Maui wildfire, now the deadliest US blaze in over a century. Despite the death toll climbing to about 100, Americans were outraged that Biden remained sunbathing on a beach near his Delaware home.

Before the fire, locals feared billionaires would transform their town into a "Satellite City" for elites. How the elites would acquire the land remained a mystery, but now not so much.