Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has issued subpoenas to three Maui agencies in connection with the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire that claimed at least 97 lives and ravaged the historic town of Lahaina, according to reports from The Hill.
The agencies under scrutiny for their response to the deadly blaze include the Maui Emergency Management Agency, the County of Maui Department of Public Works, and the County of Maui Department of Water Supply.
"We appreciate the cooperation of the Maui fire and police departments, and while we continue to work through some issues, their leaders and line responders have been transparent and cooperative," Attorney General Lopez stated in a press release on Monday.
Lopez emphasized that her office is actively driving the initial phase of the independent investigation into the Maui wildfires. The Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), also involved in the inquiry, seeks additional information from stakeholders to complete the scientific analysis of how the fire unfolded.
According to Lopez, the investigation cannot progress until phase one furnishes a scientific analysis of the fire's progression.
The FSRI has conducted over 100 community member interviews and received more than 1,000 videos and images related to the incident. The institute is also interviewing local emergency services and various governmental levels for first-person perspectives, reported ABC News.
The catastrophic wildfire, the deadliest in the U.S. in over a century, resulted in the destruction of over 2,000 structures and the burning of more than 2,000 acres, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).
The estimated cost of the rebuilding process is anticipated to exceed $5 billion.
Lopez, who previously announced the independent investigation in August, expressed the intention to "find the facts and develop new policies and procedures" to enhance future response efforts and safeguard lives and property.
In obtaining copies of the subpoenas, NBC News reported the attorney general's concerns regarding the Department of Water Supply's potential pressure loss in the water system during the fire. However, a spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that no criminal investigation is underway.
In her August announcement, Lopez emphasized the investigation's goal of ensuring accountability and uncovering facts, stating, "I remain personally invested in representing the truth, ensuring a comprehensive, independent investigation, and communicating throughout this process. Our communities expect and deserve a safer Hawaii."
Lopez also revealed her selection of the nonprofit Underwriters Laboratories Fire Safety Research Institute to evaluate the "policies and performance" of Hawaii and Maui County agencies in anticipation of and response to the wildfires.
Jim Thomas ✉
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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