Guidance on Wildfire Prevention Measures

In the aftermath of wildfires that ripped through Lahaina and burned hundreds of homes, local residents are struggling to find shelter and rebuild their lives. But many are also being hounded by developers and realtors who want to buy their properties, and they worry the reconstruction of the historic town will fall into the hands of wealthy mainland investors.

In 2023, Hawaii’s wildfires were fueled by a dangerous combination of drought and dry, combustible grasses. These conditions, exacerbated by the strong winds of Hurricane Dora, turned Maui into a tinderbox, and many people were displaced from their homes. The blazes also melted pipes and destroyed power lines, leaving behind health hazards that may not be fully cleared for months.

Maui fire lawyers offer guidance on how to protect your property and avoid the devastating consequences of a wildfire. These include improving evacuation plans, managing invasive plants and clearing defensible space around homes. These strategies are already common in other states that have dealt with deadly wildfires. But, judging by the destruction in West Maui, officials in Hawaii could do more to prevent future tragedies.

Maui Fire Lawyers Offer Guidance on Wildfire Prevention Measures

The state’s own studies warn that large swaths of the island are at high risk for wildfire, particularly on the west side of the archipelago. That’s because the foothills of Maui are covered in combustible, nonnative grasses that compete with native species for water and burn easily. Climate change is making this competition worse.

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As a result, Hawaii has suffered from more severe and frequent extreme wildfires in recent years. Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are warming the planet, reducing rainfall and deepening droughts worldwide. Combined with the hotter temperatures, the lack of moisture makes vegetation more likely to burn.

The government in Hawaii has repeatedly declined to say what could have been done to reduce the damage caused by last week’s fires, saying that a comprehensive review of government agency actions is underway. The investigation, ordered by Gov. Josh Green and led by Attorney General Anne Lopez, will be completed in three phases, with the final report expected in late 2024.

One of the biggest issues is how the fires were triggered, and authorities have not yet pinpointed a cause. But they have identified several contributing factors, including poor maintenance of utility lines and failure to evacuate populated areas.

Another issue is that the state’s warning sirens did not get activated, even though officials knew a wildfire was on the way. They say that would have confused the public, who often associates the sirens with tsunami and volcano alerts. The state is now experimenting with different ways to better alert residents of impending dangers, such as using voice messages instead of sirens.

Many victims of the Maui wildfires have experienced losses that are not fully compensated by insurance companies. If you have sustained damage to your home, business or personal belongings and need legal help, contact us today at Malama Law Group. We have a team of experienced Maui fire lawyers who can help you recover the money you deserve.