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Lawyers assert that the phone and cable companies are also to blame for the fires in Maui

By 09/06/2023 7:48 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff


Lawyers for Lahaina residents and business owners told a court on Tuesday that cable TV and telephone companies share responsibility for the catastrophe because they allegedly overloaded and destabilized some of the poles, which may be crucial to the investigation of last month’s devastating fires on Maui.

The poles are being stored by Hawaiian Electric Company in a warehouse, where they are housing power poles and electrical equipment. On August 8, when flames burned down much of Lahaina, killing at least 115 people and destroying more than 2,000 structures, the lawyers claimed the cables were attached in a way that put too much tension on the poles, causing them to lean and break in the wind.

In Hawaii’s state court, LippSmith LLP has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Maui County and Hawaii’s electric utility.

Now, attorney Graham LippSmith is requesting that the court expand the original lawsuit to include numerous telecommunications businesses as well as public and private landowners.

“It takes time for all the parties who could be held accountable to be identified and brought to justice in a catastrophe of this magnitude. According to MaryBeth LippSmith, co-founder of the Hawaii and California-based company, “our investigation thus far reveals a constellation of many serious failures that together led to this terrible tragedy.

In 2019, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric declared bankruptcy as a result of a string of terrifying wildfires that were started by its long-forgotten electrical grid in Northern California. However, LippSmith denied the allegation that the company is looking for additional defendants should Hawaiian Electric file for bankruptcy.

Instead, she is attempting to identify the causes of numerous failures in order to prevent future tragedies of this nature.

When LippSmith’s team and representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives went to the warehouse, they reported seeing a pole that had broken at the base and fallen to the ground.

damaging the cross arms of a nearby pole in the process. They claimed they were not permitted to get close enough to identify the pole numbers because sections of the poles had been cut up, apparently with a chainsaw, making it impossible to tell if one pole or several had snapped.

They claimed that Hawaiian Electric had only brought its own equipment to the warehouse and that the cables had also been removed from the poles.

The attorneys and their fire investigators looked at pre-fire pictures of the poles because the sterile display doesn’t really correspond to the equipment after the fire.

They claimed that the cable TV and telephone lines that ran mid-height between the poles showed no slack. The poles leaned downward, they contend, as a result of excessive tension and an uneven weight distribution. Charter Communications, owner of Spectrum, a cable TV provider, declined to comment.


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