Maui's top emergency official, Herman Andaya, has resigned due to controversy over emergency sirens not being used as devastating wildfires spread there. The fires, possibly caused by downed powerlines, killed more than 110 people and reduced the community of Lahaina to ruins.
Andaya said he decided not to sound the sirens as the fire approached, as he feared coastal residents would have fled inland, toward the flames. "The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the siren is sounded," he said, noting that sirens are used primarily for tsunamis.
"Had we sounded the siren that night, we were afraid that people would have gone mauka," Andaya said, using a word meaning "to the mountainside."
"And if that's the case, then they would have gone into the fire," he said.
Scapegoat or screwup? In the growing absense of state capacity, you decide!