Wildfires in the Lahaina area of Maui, Hawaii have left a trail of devastation and an unending amount of questions. One of the main areas of concern is the siren warning system. Maui has a sophisticated system composed of 80 sirens around the island that typically warn of tsunamis. The sirens can, however, be used to warn of other things… such as wildfires. On the day of the wildfire that devastated parts of the island, the sirens remained silent. Maui Emergency Management Agency boss Herman Andaya defend the decision to not sound the sirens. His reasoning is that since people on the island are trained to seek higher ground out of fear of tsunamis when they hear sirens, that could have prompted them to go right to the area where the fire was raging. Andaya has resigned in the wake of criticism toward him for the decision on the sirens, citing health reasons.
There are other reasons blamed for the wildfires that broke out on Maui. A lack of land management has been an issue for years. Michael Walker, Hawaii’s Fire Protection Forester, urged state lawmakers to push forward a bill to boost wildfire preparedness. The plan would have cost about $1.5 million. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass and preventative measures such as controlling nonnative species of grass did not ultimately happen. This lack of preparation most certainly contributed to the out-of-control blaze that has taken the lives of over 100 people with 1,000 or more people unaccounted for as of the writing of this article.
Then, there is the issue of water reserves not being released in a timely fashion to aid to battle the blaze. Maui water official Kaleo Manuel has come under fire for this because it was his office that responded in a delayed fashion to the request for immediate water assistance. An older video of Manuel has resurfaced online that shows him speaking about water in sort of a “woke” way that some are defending as traditional Hawaiian culture.
How Maui’s unchecked grasses became ‘a ticking bomb’ for wildfires
Who is Kaleo Manuel? Maui Water Official Faces Scrutiny Over Fire Response
Maui officials defend decision not to sound sirens during wildfire | Reuters
Maui emergency official resigns after harsh criticism over not using sirens
Maui’s warning sirens stayed silent as wildfires approached Lahaina. Here’s what we know | CNN
Hawaii wildfires: Maui emergency chief quits after sirens criticism – BBC News
Maui’s emergency chief Herman Andaya resigns amid wildfires criticism – The Washington Post