Hawaiian Electric Co. is now denying reports that they removed evidence related to the wildfire investigation on Maui.
The Washington Post reported that the utility may have removed evidence, like damaged poles, lines, and other equipment, from the scene in Lahaina. Actions that may have violated national guidelines, which state that fire scenes must be well preserved, evidence secured, and not taken from the site without proper documentation, the Post found.
But a spokesperson denies this, saying the utility is fully cooperating with investigators and providing access to any equipment that workers removed.
The news comes as a new report by the Associated Press found that when strong winds knocked down power poles, exposed wires struck dry grass and sparked fires upon contact. The exposed wires were part of Hawaiian Electric Co.’s extensive network.
Hawaiian Electric Co. is also under scrutiny for failing to shut down its power lines ahead of the fire despite high winds and red-flag warnings, and facing lawsuits from Lahaina residents. Last week, shareholders of the electric company filed a lawsuit accusing them of allegedly operating with inadequate procedures and protocols that put Maui at an increased risk for severe wildfires.
The fires have killed 115 people, a number that is expected to rise, and nearly 400 are still missing.
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