High winds on Tuesday intensified brush fires in Maui, turning them into rapidly spreading wildfires. Surprisingly, no outdoor warning sirens were set off by either local or state emergency agencies.
Hawaii’s Emergency Services Administration confirmed on Friday, “Neither Maui nor HI-EMA activated warning sirens on Maui during the wildfire incident.”
Residents instead depended on three other warning channels: mobile device alerts, local radio and TV stations, and Maui County’s notification system for subscribed residents.
“The sirens are used to alert the public to seek additional information; they do not necessarily indicate an evacuation,” emergency officials said.
Concerns are rising about the adequacy of the warnings, especially as Hurricane Dora’s winds, present over the central Pacific Ocean, caused power disruptions and hindered mobile communication.
Many believe that the emergency alerts were inadequate during the escalating crisis, leading to confusion in what’s now termed as one of Hawaii’s most catastrophic natural disasters.
“They didn’t give us no warning. No nothing,” Lisa Panis, a resident in western Maui, said in a phone interview. “No siren, no alarms, no nothing.”
There are an estimated 93 fatalities from the Maui disaster as of Sunday morning. Two victim identities have been confirmed due to DNA testing. Only three percent of the burn area has been covered thus far by authorities. It has already become the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history.
An especially unfortunate aspect of the Hawaiian tragedy is that many of the victims appear to be children. An anonymous source claiming to be a “whistleblower” gave her view of local conditions.
“Just reported from a whistleblower: What you’re not hearing from our local government – I just got out of a meeting where I was informed by someone in the Mayors office about developments that are being kept from the public. I am not a conspiracy theorist and I don’t want to make trouble but here’s what I’ve heard.”
“The amount of fatalities is expected to be more than 500 but less than 1000,” the source continued. “Many of the fatalities will be children who were at home because they canceled school. Parents worked and were not there to evacuate the children. Kids had no idea they needed to leave and by the time they noticed their homes or apartments were on fire, it was too late. The government is worried about how we will react when we learn that the fire department left the fire earlier in the day and claimed it was 100% contained knowing that the winds were expected to be 70mph by the afternoon.”
“This is against all fire control protocols,” the source added. “The fire department should not have left the original fire unattended. They are scared that the public calls for accountability will be more than they can control and protests and riots will occur. They plan to lock down Lahaina for several months. It will take months to clean up the hazardous and environmental contamination. They won’t have enough housing for All the displaced. There were 2,000 unaccounted for this morning. They have a list where they are trying to keep track. They found 700 today. But there are still 1300 missing.”
“They are very worried that the community is going to freak out when they find out how not a single fire truck responded to the fires,” the source claimed. “The emergency sirens were not activated (hurricane sirens) and loss of life could have been kept down by better emergency management which utterly failed. I’m not trying to make waves or stir up problems but I was so angry and sad when I found out how many children are dead that I knew I had to post this and let everyone know what I have learned. It’s time for our officials to stand up, tell the truth, and face the music. They failed Lāhainā guys.”
“Our government is full of incompetent nepotism. The fire chief is the son of the former fire chief. We need to hold officials accountable for the mistakes they made. Please don’t hate the messenger. I’m just relaying what I learned today,” the source concluded. “God bless Maui and Lahaina! Pray for all the victims.”
The trust in the government has become so broken that the Maui blaze has spawned elaborate conspiracy theories. One popular theory is that an ‘energy weapon’ used to control the weather had unleashed the blaze. The motive cited was to allegedly further the “smart cities” agenda, which is ascribed to the World Economic Forum.
The fires in Maui were caused by a direct energy weapon to turn the island into a 15 minute city, all electric, and AI governed island. pic.twitter.com/6keaqQUe33
— AlphaFo𝕏 (@Alphafox78) August 13, 2023
There were more aspersions cast in the wake of the fire due to its unusual burn pattern.
Since ignorant sheeple want to calculate a move to shut me up about this, I think I’ll triple down
If you can’t see it, it’s because you’re not looking pic.twitter.com/y1zFMrk3Ip
— The Punisher (@PunishDem1776) August 12, 2023
One woman who claimed to be a Hawaii fire survivor said “this was not a natural disaster,” and raised questions about how the fire started.
— Ivan (@Ivankalema01) August 13, 2023
There appears to be no substantive evidence to back up such elaborate theories; however, there are some unsettling “coincidences.”
Four months ago, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison acquired nearly 98% of the 141 square-mile Hawaiian island of Lanai, buying it from billionaire David Murdock for an undisclosed sum, rumored to be around $500 million. Ellison’s holdings on the island include two resorts, golf courses, numerous commercial and residential properties, and extensive undeveloped land once used for pineapple cultivation. Lanai is about 40 miles west of Lahaina in western Maui, where the fires took place.
The island’s 3,000 inhabitants have been uncertain about Ellison’s intentions for Lanai. However, in a recent interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo,” Ellison disclosed his vision of transforming the island into an eco-friendly haven, emphasizing electric vehicles, organic agriculture, and solar energy.
“What we are going to do is turn Lanai into a model for sustainable enterprise,” said Ellison, one of the world’s richest men, to Maria Bartiromo. “I own the water utility, I own the electric utility. The electric utility is all going to be solar photovoltaic and solar thermal where it can convert sea water into fresh water.”
However, Ellison’s vision goes beyond merely powering the island with solar energy and using solar thermal for desalination to generate fresh water. He also intends to introduce organic farming.
“We have drip irrigation where we are going to have organic farms all over the island. Hopefully we are going to export produce — really the best, organic produce to Japan and elsewhere. We are going to support the local people and help them start these businesses. We will have electric cars. So it’s going to be a little, if you will, laboratory for sustainability in businesses of small scale.”
Thus, Ellison was pitching the concept of turning Lanai into an ‘eco lab’ featuring electric cars, solar energy, and organic farming. But local residents complain Ellison did not engage with the island’s community, failing to communicate his intentions, address potential concerns, or gather feedback. Ellison has also been accused of seeking to turn the 90,000-acre island into a “playground for the super rich.”
Pulama Lanai, the management company he set up to oversee the island’s transformation, was also lambasted by residents for creating a “housing shortage.”
The Real Deal reported, “Ellison owns the island’s main grocery store, the only gas station, the community newspaper and the only non-Four Seasons hotel. His development plans tend to be secret. Many locals have heard that he plans to make the island ‘sustainable,’ though not how.”
“Residents say that no other entity can balance Ellison’s control, meaning his decisions carry the weight of the law, with minimal discussions of new projects and almost no due process,” the report added.
There are also serious questions about the government’s response to the wildfire.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency confirmed that no sirens linked to Maui’s Emergency Alert System were activated on that day. Adam Weintraub, a department spokesperson, explained that the system, which comprises 80 sirens across Maui, is designed to motivate people to seek detailed emergency information, like via online, TV, or radio broadcasts.
“The siren is a message, but it’s not a very specific message, and so each time we sound them, there is a balancing in the decision,” Weintraub said. “Will it cause more good or more harm?”
“The best I can say is that given the speed and demands of the incident, I don’t have any concerns in the way that Maui County handled it the way I know now, but we can talk about that again after we’re done ensuring people are safe,” he added.
Describing the devastation, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green attempted to deflect responsibility for the emergency response failure to NBC’s Lester Holt.
“It’s too early for me to tell,” Green said when asked whether the siren system wasn’t employed because of human decision or equipment failure.
“Much of the equipment was destroyed with fire and it’s a very remote place. This was a western edge of the island of Maui,” Green said. “Of course, we would never diminish any kind of responsibility. They were all fighting in fires across the islands.”
In May, Hawaiian officials reported suspected widespread arson on the island of Maui.
“Fire and police suspect someone is intentionally setting them,” said Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.
On Friday, Attorney General Anne Lopez announced that her department would undertake a “comprehensive review” of the “critical decision-making and standing policies” before, during and after the fires.
“The Department of the Attorney General shares the grief felt by all in Hawaiʻi, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” Lopez said in a statement.
“My Department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review,” she added. “As we continue to support all aspects of the ongoing relief effort, now is the time to begin this process of understanding.”