Video footage shows that Maui's deadly wildfires were caused by powerlines downed by howling winds, reports the Associated Press. A local man, Shane Treu, saw it happen and called 911–then began filming for posterity while hosing down his house.
"I heard 'buzz, buzz,'" the 49-year-old resort worker recounted to The Associated Press. "It was almost like somebody lit a firework. It just ran straight up the hill to a bigger pile of grass and then, with that high wind, that fire was blazing."
Treu's video and others captured the early moments of what would become the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. Now the footage has emerged as key evidence pointing to fallen utility lines as the possible cause. Hawaiian Electric Co. faces criticism for not shutting off the power amid high wind warnings and keeping it on even as dozens of poles began to topple.
Identifying those killed in the Maui wildfires will be very difficult and likely take weeks, Hawaii's governor said Tuesday as the death toll climbed to 106 and families desperately waiting to hear about lost loved ones were asked to provide DNA samples.
A genetics team will help identify victims, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green told CNN, as around 185 search and rescue workers and 20 cadaver dogs continued to comb through the ashes of homes and business incinerated by the deadliest US wildfire in more than a century.
Hawaiian Electric "declined to comment on … whether it has ever shut down power before due to high winds."
The BBC has maps of the fire based on NASA imagery.