Hawaii’s Maui emergency chief resigns after not activating fire warnings over fear of ‘mauka’

Hawaii’s Maui emergency chief resigns after not activating fire warnings over fear of ‘mauka’
Maui Emergency Management Agency Administrator Herman Andaya speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Wailuku, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)

The sirens outside were silent Maui When a terrible fire engulfs a coastal community Lahaina Last week. Director Emergency Management Agency From the island he said he did not regret not implementing a system to notify residents.

A day after his statement on Thursday, Herman Andaya He resigned from his post. The official explained that he feared that people would interfere with “mauka,” the Hawaiian word for mountains or inland, by turning on sirens during fires.

“If it had been, they would have gone to the fire”Andaya added.

At least 55 killed in Maui wildfires

But the decision not to activate the sirens, along with a lack of water hampering firefighters’ work and highway traffic jams where flames engulfed fleeing cars, drew sharp criticism from many residents. America for more than a century. At least 111 people have died.

mayor, Richard Bissen, Maui County announced on Facebook that it accepted Andaia’s resignation immediately. Antaya cited unspecified health reasons for stepping down and no further details were provided.

On August 15, 2023, a fire ravaged the town of Lahaina on the U.S. island of Hawaii, Maui. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

“Given the severity of the crisis we face, my team and I will appoint someone to this key position as soon as possible, and I look forward to announcing it soon,” Bissen said in a statement.

The absence of angels is revealed as a possible error, and Associated Press It said it was part of a series of communication problems that exacerbated the confusion. Hawaii It is hailed as the world’s largest outdoor emergency siren system.

Anger is growing among residents of an archipelago town devastated by the worst wildfires recorded in the United States in 100 years.

The organization was created after more than 150 people died in the tsunami Big Island In 1946, it could be used to warn of fires, according to its website.

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Hawaii Attorney General, Anne Lopez, said on Thursday that an outside body would conduct an “impartial and independent” assessment of the government’s response, adding that officials intend to “take any necessary corrective action in advance to prepare for future emergencies.” He added that the investigation could take several months.

Rescue teams provide aid to victims (REUTERS/Marco Garcia/File)

Displaced residents continue to fill hotels ready to welcome and care for them at least until next spring.

Officials hope to vacate the overcrowded and uncomfortable shelters by early next week, he said. Brad Keyserman, vice president of emergency operations for the American Red Cross. He added that hotel rooms will be available for those who have been sleeping in cars or camping in parking lots for the past eight days.

The search for the missing has expanded beyond Lahaina to other communities devastated by the fire. According to the governor, as of Thursday, rescuers had not covered 45% of the burnt area.

(With information from AP)

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Arzu Daniel

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