Note from Daisy: You’d have to live under a rock not to have heard about the horrific Maui fire that destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, where many residents’ families had lived for generations. Here at The OP (and here at AP – Ed.), our hearts weep for those who lost loved ones, homes, and this incredibly special place. If you want to help but are turned off by large organizations, a great place to donate is directly to those affected by the fire. This Instagram account can link you to real families who lost everything. You don’t have to have an Instagram account to do this. ~ Daisy (You can also help our friends at Hungry Heroes – Ed.)
Maui just suffered its worst disaster, with a death toll at 115 as of Thursday and nearly a thousand people still missing. While this loss of life is tragic in and of itself, as time goes by, more questions pop up. How did the fires begin? How did they get so out of control? How come damage seemed to occur almost exclusively to the natives while celebrity estates in the area were miraculously unharmed?
Why was the governor almost immediately making plans for the land? Why has media been so restricted in what they can report on?
Officials always start by blaming climate change whenever some sort of natural disaster occurs. I always start by assuming incompetence, and there was certainly plenty of that to go around in this situation.
How the Maui fire began
The historic city of Lahaina sits on the west coast of Maui. It was the capital of the original Hawaiian kingdom and was noted for its history and beauty. It was not populated by the chain stores you see on the mainland. Lahaina was largely owned and run by natives. It was a truly unique cultural artifact.
Lahaina was also surrounded by government-owned land covered with an exceptionally flammable kind of invasive grass that had been allowed to take over after years of mismanagement. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization warned the government repeatedly about the fire risk, but to no avail. On August 8, as winds from Hurricane Dora swept through the area, small fires began popping up in areas owned by Hawaii Electric.
Then the deputy director of Water Resource Management withheld water from firefighters.
The Hawaiian firefighters did their job to the best of their ability and were able to put out some small fires initially. But that ability was greatly hampered when the hydrants ran out of water.
The deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management waited for 5 hoursbefore releasing additional water to the fire department, during which time Lahaina burned. The now-fired deputy director is a former Obama Foundation leader, openly concerned about using water as a tool for social justice, but not, apparently, as a tool for putting out fires.