State confirms sirens were not activated as ferocious wildfire ripped through Lahaina
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Attorney General’s Office said it would conduct a comprehensive review of “critical decision-making” on the Maui wildfires, which have left dozens dead, razed entire communities and destroyed thousands of structures in Lahaina alone.
The review comes amid mounting questions about why sirens didn’t sound in Lahaina and concerns that residents weren’t told of the danger earlier, giving them more time to leave.
In an interview on HNN, Gov. Josh Green wasn’t able to say why the sirens were not used.
“Of course people will ask that question. We will always try to protect people more. Eventually those questions will be answered by the emergency management folks, I’m sure,” he said.
“But at this point, the firefighters just to be clear, we’re already fighting major fires in two or three other regions on Maui, and then sometime late in the night is when the fire sparked.”
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen, meanwhile, called the wildfires an “impossible situation.”
“The winds that hit us on that side of the island ... in some areas, gusts were up to 80 mph, some sustained between 45 and 60-65 mph. So, everything happened so quickly,” he said.
“I know the fires came up so quickly and they spread so fast.”
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said while no sirens were activated, alerts were delivered via cell phone, radio and television and the county’s emergency app.
Many residents report not getting those alerts because power and cell service was already out.
“The sirens are used to alert the public to seek additional information; they do not necessarily indicate an evacuation,” HIEMA said, in the statement.
“HIEMA is committed to transparency and will work with the Department of the Attorney General on the comprehensive review announced today. Our priority is supporting Maui County to assist the people affected by the fires.”
Attorney General Anne Lopez said the review will look at policies and decision leading up to, during and after the wildfire that destroyed historic Lahaina town and others.
“The Department of the Attorney General shares the grief felt by all in Hawaii, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” Lopez said, in a news release.
“My Department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review. As we continue to support all aspects of the ongoing relief effort, now is the time to begin this process of understanding.”
Copyright 2023 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.