The Washington Post published a relatively short article with analysis of the fire based on video, along with showing some of those videos.
I recommend you read the article but here is the short version:
- There are three major land parcels that run north to south on the West side of Lahaina.
- None of the three landowners took significant responsibility to keep the land free of grasses that created a tinder box
- The fire started by a down power line; the Maui fire department said they had contained it in the morning
- But by the afternoon things had dried out and the fire restarted.
- The direction of the wind ensured that the fire actually warmed up and dries out fuel further down its path. Combined with all of that grass, and eventually hitting areas of the town not built to withstand fire, it all went to hell
But the most interesting part of the story is the absolute denial of responsibility of any of the landowners. I’m sure that there will be more blame to go around, but this is ridiculous.
Developer Peter Martin, who was reached by phone, told The Post that the invasive grass was a “red herring” to divert attention from the government’s water resource regulations, which he said were so restrictive that they prevented farming or development of the land he owns. “The truth is that I believe that God was angry,” Martin said, that these lands were not being used “as God intended.”(Large parcel land owner)
“We have managed our lands in an effort to heal the ʻāina (land) and create a thriving resource for our lāhui (community),” said Sterling Wong, a spokesperson for the Kamehameha Schools.(Large parcel land owner)
Yes, well, it’s cauterized now.
The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) told The Post it has tried to mitigate fire risk with limited resources, including applying for federal grants to create fire breaks and reduce invasive species across state and private lands in West Maui.(Large parcel land owner)
The only honest response, perhaps an acceptance of responsibility but not a straightforward denial.
More stories will come out and there will be more blame to go around (unless God takes responsibility): these parties should still take responsibility for their own inaction. People burned to death over this inaction.