Federal investigators dispatched to Maui to determine exact cause of catastrophic fire

 In Tragedy
The team of investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will examine the origin of a blaze that residents suspect was sparked by downed power lines.
A team of investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was dispatched to Maui on Thursday to determine the exact origin and cause of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.

Since the Aug. 8 fire killed more than 100 people, speculation about what caused it has centered on power lines, but investigators have found no definitive proof.

The five-member ATF National Response Team was expected to arrive Thursday night in Hawaii. It is expected to deploy in the field Friday morning.

“We were all devastated to learn of the loss of life and property on Maui from the Hawaii wildfires,” Jonathan T. McPherson, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s Seattle Field Division, said in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to support our local counterparts in determining the origin and cause of the wildfires there, and hopefully bring some healing to the community.”

An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. At least 36 people have died after a fast-moving wildfire turned Lahaina to ashes, officials said August 9, 2023 as visitors asked to leave the island of Maui found themselves stranded at the airport. The fires began burning early August 8, scorching thousands of acres and putting homes, businesses and 35,000 lives at risk on Maui, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

An aerial image taken Aug. 10 shows homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina after wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii.Patrick T. Fallon / AFP – Getty Images

Experts have said a possible cause of the fire was high winds that downed power lines. Some victims havesued Hawaiian Electric, the state’s largest utility, accusing it of providing equipment that was not strong enough to withstand heavy winds. They have also accused the utility of failing to turn off the power when high winds warnings were issued.
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The five-member ATF team includes fire investigators, an electrical engineer and other personnel from Washington, D.C., Honolulu, Seattle and Maryland. Past investigations by the ATF’s National Response Team include the 2020 Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee; the 2001 attack on the Pentagon; the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta; the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.


Source: NBC News





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