It might take weeks or months to find out the reason for the blaze that destroyed the seaside Hawaiian city of Lahaina, one of many deadliest wildfires in US historical past.
However consideration is already specializing in whether or not energy traces owned by Hawaiian Electrical Industries performed a task, with the inventory plunging greater than 40 per cent because the fireplace started.
Whereas many issues might have offered the preliminary spark for the flames, which had been fanned by excessive winds, electrical traces have a tragic historical past of triggering fires throughout wind storms.
WHAT CAUSED THE MAUI FIRE?
We don’t know. Hawaiian Electrical, which operates the island’s energy utility, has come below criticism for not shutting off energy regardless of warnings of essential fireplace situations attributable to predicted dry, gale-force winds.
A number of wildfires erupted across Maui on Aug 8, as Hurricane Dora handed south of the Hawaiian islands. The corporate that day warned clients that winds had knocked down energy traces in West Maui, the place Lahaina is situated, and close to Kula, the place one other fireplace broke out.
The corporate’s press launch, which mentioned clients might face prolonged blackouts, didn’t point out fires. That mentioned, many issues can spark a blaze when winds are robust and vegetation is dry. Wildfires have been began by cigarette butts, vans dragging chains alongside a highway, and in a single notorious case, pyrotechnics at a gender-reveal occasion.
HOW DO POWER LINES CAUSE WILDFIRES?
A number of methods, often involving wind. Robust sufficient gusts can tear down traces or knock over poles. They’ll additionally topple close by timber or ship branches flying into energy traces, inflicting sparks.
Even when traces don’t fall, winds could cause them to sway into one another, once more creating sparks and sending molten steel into the grass under.
WHAT’S THE HISTORY?
Energy traces have repeatedly sparked lethal fires throughout the western US, significantly in California.
The state’s largest utility, PG&E, was pushed into chapter 11 in 2019 after a number of devastating, wind-driven fires blamed on the corporate’s gear, together with the 2017 wine nation fires north of San Francisco and the 2018 Camp Fireplace, which levelled the city of Paradise and killed 85 folks.
Plaintiff legislation companies now working in Maui represented fireplace victims in a US$13.5 billion settlement with PG&E.