A sensor and data technology company said that power grid malfunctions could likely be the cause of Maui wildfires in Hawaii.
Bob Marshall, the founder and CEO of Whisker Labs, said data from the company’s sensors suggested that there were dozens of power grid malfunctions, which likely caused multiple fires, according to Hawaii News Now. The sensors, called Ting by the company, had been distributed to homeowners by insurance companies to prevent household electrical hazards, according to the outlet.
“If you look at the Ting data, all the sensors in that area. Ten sensors. Measured at that very instant a sharp drop in voltage. That is the actual fault occurring on the electrical grid,” Marshall told the outlet.
An electrical fault is an abnormal condition in a power system or equipment. Some common causes include lightning strikes, transformer failures and faults, and fallen power polls.
Mr. Marshall referred to a recent Instagram video showing a fire captured by the security camera of the Maui Bird Conservation Center in the eastern region of Upcountry at around 11 p.m. local time on Aug. 7. In the video, Jennifer Pribble, a senior research coordinator at the center, explained how the fire might have been caused by a fallen tree on a power line.
“Any of those faults just like you see in the video from the bird sanctuary are likely to cause an arc or a spark,” Marshall said. “That means there’s molten shards of hot metal falling to the ground.”
Between Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, Mr. Marshall said 78 Ting sensors on Maui detected 122 faults on the island’s electrical grid.
“And that’s not normal at all,” Mr. Marshall said. “There’s typically not more than a few faults on any given day on Maui. So this was definitely a result of the winds.”