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Energy officials testify about Maui wildfire to Congress

The wildfires devastated the town of Lahaina. Associated Press/Photo by Rick Bowmer

Energy officials testify about Maui wildfire to Congress

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday held its first hearing about what contributed to the devastating August wildfire. The fire killed at least 97 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. Hawaii’s top public utility officials and representatives from Hawaiian Electric answered questions about the safety and maintenance of the island’s power infrastructure. Eyewitnesses have said that a downed power line contributed to the blaze and Hawaiian Electric faces multiple lawsuits alleging it acted negligently before and during the fires.

What did Hawaiian Electric say? A downed power line caused a fire in dry brush early on the morning of Aug. 8, said Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Shelee Kimura. She said the fire was extinguished and the company’s power lines in western Maui were de-energized hours before a second fire began in the same area. Kimura told the committee that she would gather information and provide more details about what happened during the fires.

Dig deeper: Read Sharon Dierberger and Grace Snell’s report in WORLD Magazine about insurance for natural disasters in California.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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