Science & Environment

Maui Official Defends Not Sounding Warning Sirens For Deadly Fire

The Maui official who oversees emergencies on the island mentioned late Wednesday that he doesn’t remorse the choice to not sound emergency sirens when lethal wildfires started sweeping the city of Lahaina, saying doing so would have possible led to extra hurt than good.

Maui County Emergency Management Agency Administrator Herman Andaya defended his choice when pressed by a reporter throughout a information convention concerning the fast-moving fires, which have killed a minimum of 111 individuals. He defined that the sirens might have despatched individuals into the guts of the blaze within the mountains.

“Had we sounded the siren that night, we’re afraid that people would have gone mauka,” a phrase referring to the mountainside, he mentioned. “And if that was the case, then they would have gone into the fire.”

The sirens, Andaya continued, “are used primarily for tsunamis, and that’s the reason why many of them are found ― almost all of them are found ― on the coastline. The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the siren is sounded.”

Other counties in Hawaii “will inform you that sirens haven’t been used for brushfires,” he continued. Instead, his workplace determined to ship out warnings through Wireless Emergency Alert, or WEA, which sends sounds and texts out to cellphones, and the Emergency Alert System, or EAS, which blasts warnings on TV and radio.

However, these methods depend on cell towers and electrical energy, and far of the island misplaced energy in the course of the wildfires.

“We didn’t even know that the power was necessarily down,” Andaya mentioned. “We do know that there were people who did receive the alert and notifications. We do know that many people were able to evacuate as a result.”

Andaya’s clarification comes as Lahaina residents say they weren’t warned about the approaching disaster at all and questioned why officers didn’t sound the sirens, which a Maui authorities web site says could also be used for fires. Residents say the blaze confirmed up out of nowhere final week, with many solely evacuating after studying of the fireplace by means of phrase of mouth or their very own smoke detectors.

Hawaii’s legal professional common is now investigating the island’s response to the emergency.

More than a thousand individuals stay unaccounted for, and the dying toll is predicted to rise considerably. About 80% of Lahaina, a preferred vacationer vacation spot on the island’s west facet, has been destroyed.

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