The House of Representatives has announced a second investigation into the Maui wildfires that destroyed part of the Hawaiian island and killed more than 100 people in early August.
“Our hearts are with the people of Maui as they confront immense grief, sadness, and despair, especially for those who are still searching for their missing loved ones,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote in a letter.
“We must come to a complete understanding of how this disaster started to ensure Hawaii and other states are prepared to prevent and stop other deadly wildfires.”
“Certain evidence of a downed power line sparking dry grass in Lahaina indicates that Hawaiian Electric equipment may have been the cause. We understand that Hawaiian Electric, as well as the Hawaii attorney general, are conducting investigations into the deadly fire.”
The letter is addressed to the head of Hawaii Electric as well as top officials at the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and Hawaii State Energy Office.
Hawaii Electric denied responsibility for the devastating fires after Maui County sued the energy company, alleging that it was negligent in failing to shut off its grid and thus fueling the flames. A statement by CEO Shelee Kimura sent to several outlets called the lawsuit “factually and legally irresponsible.”
The House Republicans’ letter pointed out that the lawsuit was also “alleging among other things, that the utility removed power lines and other equipment after the fire and before relevant investigations had been completed.”
And despite Hawaii Wildfire Management officials warning of a growing risk of wildfires over the past two decades, the lawmakers cite “filings still pending at the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission” to say “it appears that Hawaiian Electric did not seek to harden and modernize Maui’s electric grid for wildfire risks until just the last couple of years.”
The committee asked Hawaii Electric to turn over a timeline of events and actions taken on Aug. 8 after the fires started, as well as any actions taken by the company between then and 2013 to address the risk of wildfires.
It is also looking to find out what Hawaii Electric did after the fires “relating to the removal of any equipment, including but not limited to, damaged power lines and poles,” among other inquiries.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Hawaii Electric pledged to cooperate with Congress in its investigations of the fires.
“Hawaiian Electric is doing everything possible to support those who have been impacted on Maui as we continue our restoration and rebuilding efforts. We are also working with a number of different entities to keep our communities safe, as climate issues rapidly intensify here and around the globe,” the company said.
“We have received the letter from the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and look forward to working with the committee.”
Fox News Digital also reached out to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and Hawaii State Energy Office but did not immediately hear back.
The latest probe comes after House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., announced this week that his panel would launch an investigation into the federal response to the fires.
“The response by federal, state and local officials to the catastrophic wildfire in Maui raises serious questions, and Americans, especially those impacted by this tragedy, deserve answers,” Comer said.
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