Hawaii Wildfires: AG Subpoenas 3 Maui Agencies

    Photo: Flickr [via Wikimedia Commons]

    The Facts

    • Coming roughly four months after a series of wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, killed at least 100 people and displaced thousands of others, the state's Attorney General Anne Lopez announced Monday that she subpoenaed the Maui Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the County of Maui Department of Public Works (DPW) and the County of Maui Department of Water Supply (DWS).

    • As the first phase of her investigation involves identifying where the fire broke out and a timeline of its spread, Lopez's office said the subpoenas will allow the "timely" collection of facts. The office also said that investigators at the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), which Lopez hired, are still lacking "critical facts" from "several key stakeholders."


    The Spin

    Democratic narrative

    This entire tragedy needs to be reviewed from top to bottom, but that doesn't mean that local, state, or federal government agencies are specifically at fault for this. As Hawaii and its citizens work to rebuild their lives and communities and better prepare their institutions for future disasters, everyone from lawmakers to private companies and volunteers needs to continue to put money in the hands of these victims and work to enact policies to end the destruction of burning fossil fuels.

    Republican narrative

    Even if climate change played some type of role in these wildfires, the fact that emergency agencies failed so miserably in a state that faces natural disasters all the time — from Tsunamis to hurricanes to volcanic eruptions — should raise everyone's eyebrows. Police barricades blocked certain people from fleeing communities; the Department of Land and Natural Resources delayed the release of water; and the emergency alert system only sent alert texts to some communities. That is beyond negligent, and people need to be held responsible.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the official death toll for the 2023 Hawaii wildfires will be at least 116 as of January 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.


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