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Maui Fire 5th Deadliest Fire in U.S. History

The Maui Fire ignited on August 8th in the town of Lahaina in West Maui. One of at least four fires that sparked across Hawai’i that day, the blaze took firefighters nearly a month to contain. By September 3rd, the fire had scorched 2,170 acres and damaged or destroyed 2,207 structures. Residential and historical buildings in Lahaina were decimated, including a 200-year-old church and a 165-year-old courthouse. 

Tragically, the Maui Fire was not only destructive but deadly, claiming the lives of 97 people, while 31 remain unaccounted for. While this number is down from previous death toll estimates, the fire remains the 5th deadliest in recorded U.S. history. Dozens more suffered from smoke inhalation, burns, and other injuries as the fire devastated the community and caused an estimated $5.52 billion in damages.

Cause of the Maui Fire

The cause of the Maui fires is still under investigation, but early evidence points to powerlines downed by high winds. The National Weather Service predicted wind speeds driven by Hurricane Dora as high as 60 miles per hour combined with warm temperatures and dry conditions that primed Hawai’i for increased fire danger and rapid fire spread. 

Video evidence taken across the island shows powerlines toppling in the wind and igniting the vegetation below and at least one instance where a tree fell onto a line and caused arcing.

Hawaiian Electric’s 60,000 power poles, most made of wood, were described in the company’s own documents as built to “an obsolete 1960s standard”. Power lines across the island were nowhere near meeting a 2002 national standard to withstand 105-mile-per-hour winds, nor were surrounding trees and vegetation properly managed.

Hawaiian Electric Facing Lawsuits Over Maui Fire

Maui’s four main utility companies are facing lawsuits over how they failed to prepare for the coming weather and failed to properly maintain their equipment. 

Hawaiian Electric Company released a statement on August 27th in response to Maui County’s lawsuit seeming to take responsibility for the “Morning Fire". It said the fire on the morning of August 8 "appears to have been caused by power lines that fell in high winds."

However, the utility company then appeared to blame the Maui County Fire Department for the “Afternoon Fire,” saying its powerlines had been de-energized for more than six hours when the second fire began. 

Singleton Schreiber managing partner Gerald Singleton appeared on NBC News on August 28th to discuss the Maui Fire. 

“That’s obviously the first we’ve heard of it,” he said. “We have looked at the evidence very closely, we have people on the ground; there is absolutely no evidence to support HECO’s claim. In contrast, all of the evidence we’ve seen is that the lines were energized.”

Singleton said Hawaiian Electric told the SEC in a filing that it did not have a Public Safety Power Shutoff in place, a program to turn off power in a specific area to reduce fire risk. For the full story and Maui County’s response, watch the video clip above.

Maui Fire Lawsuit Updates

Singleton Schreiber is continuing to accept cases for those affected by the Maui wildfires. 

August 24th: Singleton Schreiber is determined to fight tirelessly for individuals, businesses, and families who have suffered senselessly and deserve justice. We believe the Maui fires were entirely preventable and have filed the first wrongful death lawsuit against the island’s four main utility companies. 

"This is the first of many wrongful death cases where these utility companies are being held responsible for their behavior," said Singleton Schreiber Hawai'i attorney Julia Bryant. "This family wants answers, our community wants answers, and so far all we've seen is silence and finger pointing." 

The loss of life from the Maui fires was senseless and entirely preventable, and we intend to seek legal recourse where necessary to obtain fair and full compensation for our clients to move forward with their lives.


The County of Maui filed a lawsuit today against the four main utility companies for civil damages caused to the County’s public property and resources caused by the Maui fires, including fires in Lāhainā and in Kula. The damages include losses to public infrastructure, fire response costs, losses to revenues, increased costs, environmental damages, and losses of historical or cultural landmarks.

August 14th, 2023: Singleton Schreiber filed the first civil lawsuit on behalf of 6 victims of the Lahaina Fire. The suit was filed against Hawaiian Electric Industries, Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawai’i Electric Light Company, and Maui Electric Company, which provide service to 95% of the state’s residents.

The complaint alleges that the defendants left their powerlines energized, despite the extreme high wind and fire risk warnings issued by the National Weather Service. The lawsuit further asserts that the companies did not properly maintain their equipment and failed to implement proper vegetation management programs.

Find a Maui Fire Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been affected by the tragic wildfires in Maui, contact a Maui fire lawyer immediately to help you through this difficult time.

An experienced Hawaii wildfire attorney can provide the help you need to get you back on your feet and get you the compensation you deserve as a victim of this disaster. Tourists or visitors can claim personal property damage, personal injury from smoke inhalation or exposure, and associated out-of-pocket costs.

Book Your Free Consultation

Maui Fire News

Our Hawai'i Fire Lawyers Can Get You Compensation for Damages From the Maui Wildfires

Singleton Schreiber’s Maui Fire lawyers have extensive experience fighting for victims who have sustained property damage caused by fire, injury caused by fire, hospitalization from fire, and wrongful death from fire, as well as psychological trauma and other long-term health issues caused by these disasters.

A Maui Fire settlement can never replace what was lost during this awful tragedy, but it could help bring some justice to victims and hold the responsible parties accountable. We will do everything in our power to help you recover the fair and full compensation you need to move forward with your life.

If You Have Experienced Any of the Following, You May Be Eligible for Maui Fire Compensation.

Book Your Free Consultation

Frequently Asked Questions

What caused the Kula Fire?

The Kula Fire, also referred to as the Upcountry Fire, has reportedly burned 202 acres and destroyed 19 homes. While an official cause of the fire has not been determined, security camera footage from the Maui Bird Conservation Center and electrical grid sensor data indicate that a tree may have contacted a powerline, causing sparks that ignited the fire. Like the fire that devastated Lahaina, Singleton Schreiber is here to help Kula residents recover from this terrible tragedy. 

What resources are available to Maui victims?

There are several resources available to Maui Fire victims, including foundations, funds, food banks, shelters, unemployment benefits, and mental health services. For more information, visit our Maui Fire Resources page.

Can Maui Fire victims get compensation?

If it is determined that the fire was caused by power lines, then anyone who was affected by the Maui Fire can get compensation, including for evacuations, property damage, injuries, hospitalizations, and death. Victims can also seek compensation for increased insurance premiums and other related causes.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the Maui Fire, contact the Hawaii fire lawyers at Singleton Schreiber for a free consultation today.

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