Maui police chief responds to criticism over barricades that were up as Lahaina burned

The response to Saturday’s fire in Kaanapali was in stark contrast to the one nearly 3 weeks ago in Lahaina
Published: Aug. 27, 2023 at 8:54 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 27, 2023 at 5:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The response to Saturday’s fire in Kaanapali was in stark contrast to the one nearly three weeks ago in Lahaina, where no sirens were sounded.

Maui Police chief confirms to HNN that barricades were set up in Lahaina to keep people away from downed power lines.

The information is being spotlighted in national and international press, but the chief is pushing back against criticism, saying it’s too premature to second guess those decisions.

Drone video has shown rows of charred cars jamming both lanes of Front Street in Historic Lahaina. It’s a scene that portrays the chaos on Aug. 8 as people tried to flee the town.

Nearly three weeks since the deadly wildfire, some information has emerged that wasn’t initially highlighted.

The AP reports that car after car was turned back toward the rapidly spreading wildfire by a barricade blocking access to the highway to get out of Lahaina town.

This week, Maui’s police chief explained why barricades were set up.

“Downed power lines, which would kill you if you drove over them — or a fire that’s engulfed the area,” said MPD Chief John Pelletier.

“So there was a point when we didn’t let traffic into Front Street because Front Street was on fire. But we did not impede people from exiting the area.”

This comes as Maui County is suing HECO for allegedly causing the fires by not shutting off power ahead of time due to the high winds and dry brush.