In a devastating chain of events, wildfires ravaged through Maui, leading to the unfortunate loss of at least 115 lives. But the distress doesn’t end there. Hawaiian Electric, a major electricity provider, stands accused of negligence that possibly sparked the disastrous fires.
Evidence Removal: A Breach of Trust or Standard Procedure?
The core of the issue lies in the removal of crucial evidence. Hawaiian Electric is alleged to have removed key equipment, including power lines, from a substation pivotal to the investigation before authorities could examine the scene. Such an action raises concerns, primarily when it potentially breaches national guidelines regarding how utilities should preserve evidence after events like wildfires.
Hawaiian Electric’s defense? They claim they’ve carefully documented, photographed, and stored the removed equipment, and they’re in regular communication with ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). Michael Wara, an expert from Stanford University, points out that the removal of equipment before investigators can observe the site could hamper the understanding of what truly transpired.
The Conundrum: Safety vs. Evidence Preservation
On the one hand, the rapid response by search and rescue teams, in light of the wildfire’s tragic aftermath, is crucial. Hawaiian Electric noted that the presence of these teams could lead to the loss of essential evidence—something they claim not to control.
However, just days after the fire, a judicial order was signed, outlining the manner in which Hawaiian Electric should handle evidence around the suspected fire’s origin. And here’s where the plot thickens: Lawyers representing affected families in Lahaina had already reached out to the company, urging them to preserve evidence.
Negligence or Unfortunate Timing?
Central to the lawsuits against Hawaiian Electric is the claim that the company failed to power down their equipment, despite receiving a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Services. With the wildfires erupting just a day after this warning, questions about whether more proactive measures could have prevented the tragedy arise.
Maui County, alongside other plaintiffs, believes negligence is at play. Their lawsuits highlight the devastating human cost and demand accountability from multiple entities under the Hawaiian Electric umbrella.
Where Do We Stand at OnderLaw?
At OnderLaw, we’re champions of justice. While we wait for more details to emerge from the investigations, our hearts go out to the families affected by the Maui wildfires. Every individual has the right to safety, and corporations must be held accountable for their actions or inactions.
The tragedy in Maui is a stark reminder that vigilance, proactive measures, and responsibility are paramount, especially when the stakes are as high as human lives. We stand ready to ensure that the rights of those affected are protected, and justice is pursued relentlessly. If you or a loved one have been affected by the recent tragedy in Hawaii, contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
Stay informed, stay safe, and trust that at OnderLaw, we’ll always be on the side of justice.