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Maui Utilities Sued Over Kula Fire


MAUI, Hawaii, Dec. 27, 2023 -- Singleton Schreiber, the premier fire litigation law firm in Hawaii, filed a lawsuit on behalf of dozens of residents against Hawaiian Electric Industries, Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawai'i Electric Light Company and Maui Electric Company. The lawsuit alleges that the utilities are responsible for the Kula Fire (also known as the Upcountry Fire).

According to the complaint, a wildfire was caused by the utilities' downed power lines on August 8, 2023. Predictably, the resulting wildfire spread quickly, destroying over 19 homes and other structures in addition to burning 700 acres in the small mountainside community.

The survivors of the Upcountry Fire reportedly suffer from significant personal and property injuries. Homes and priceless possessions of residents have been incinerated, and many of their beloved pets and other animals suffered horrific injuries or deaths. For others, the items that residents spent a lifetime earning, gathering, saving, and cherishing were reduced to ashes by the fire.

The community of Kula also suffered significant environmental harm, including smoke and ash damage to landmark trees, unique plants, and historical buildings. But this damage was not only environmental; it also represents a loss of culture, tradition, and even spirituality to the people of Hawaii as well as the visitors who appreciated it.

The complaint also alleges that smoke from the Upcountry Fire contained ash and dust with toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds—large groups of chemicals that increase the likelihood of cancers, cognitive impairments, and birth defects. This smoke resulted from burned buildings, vehicles, pipes, propane tanks, plastics, rubber, dyes, detergents, paint, lead, metals, and various other materials. These toxic chemicals include but are not limited to known toxins such as asbestos, lead, benzene, arsenic, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other air pollutants.

"The Upcountry Fire's impact will be felt for decades as residents battle to rebuild their lives and survive the environmental and mental health toll wreaked by this devastating fire," said Paul Starita, attorney at Singleton Schreiber.

The case is Douglas C. Wagner v. Hawaiian Electric Industries, Case No. 2CCV-23-0000440.

About Singleton Schreiber
With roughly 300 attorneys and staff, and offices in Hawai'i, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, Gerald Singleton and his team have represented more than 15,000 victims of utility fires and recovered approximately $2.5 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients.

This is attorney advertising material. Paul Starita, Esq., a Hawai'i-licensed lawyer, is responsible for the contents of this article.


Media Contact: Joe Marchelewski, [email protected].

SOURCE Singleton Schreiber