Maui Fire Lawsuit Seeks Justice for Victims as Hawaii Wildfire Claims More Than 90 Lives and Displaces Residents

The deadly August 2023 wildfires in Hawaii have devastated the islands. The fires are contained, but the death toll is still rising as more victims are being found. Recovery efforts are in full swing at the federal, state, and local levels.

On Wednesday, August 16, public schools began the process of reopening as families continue to grieve. Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi said that displaced students on Maui can access meals and counseling at one of the three schools on the island that were not touched by the fire.

The Department of Education is offering counseling services for students, family members, and staff. Many more disaster relief resources from various agencies are available to residents, tourists, and visitors.


Find a Maui Fire Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been affected by the Maui Fire, contact the experienced Maui wildfire attorneys at Singleton Schreiber today for a free consultation. 

Our top Hawai’i fire lawyers can help you learn about potential compensation from the Maui Fire and understand all of your legal options, whether you have insurance or not. If a power company was responsible for spreading these fires, you deserve to be reimbursed for your losses.

Whether you rent or own your property, you shouldn’t pay the price for wildfires caused by negligent power companies. Years of experience in fire litigation have allowed our attorneys to develop strong relationships with qualified wildfire experts who help us achieve the very best results for your case.

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FEMA Maui Fire Resources Now Available

According to the official Maui Fire map released by the Pacific Disaster Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Lahaina Fire damaged or destroyed more than 2,207 structures and burned more than 2,170 acres. More than 4,500 people have been forced to seek shelter as a result of the blaze.

In response, FEMA has deployed more than 140 Urban Search and Rescue personnel who have integrated with the Maui Fire Department to help conduct rescue operations. In Maui, the organization has provided more than 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots, and 10,000 blankets to the county government for distribution.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell announced on August 14 that there are now two programs available to provide relief to wildfire survivors by supplying shelter, money, food, water, and medical supplies: the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program and the Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) program.

According to FEMA’s press release:

“The TSA program allows survivors to shelter in pre-identified hotels or motels for a limited amount of time as they develop their housing plan. FEMA pays for these hotel rooms so there is no out of pocket expense for survivors.

The CNA program can provide eligible survivors with a one-time $700 payment per household and can offer residents some relief during this unimaginably difficult time. This money can be used for life- saving and life-sustaining items.”

Those affected can apply for financial aid from FEMA or the US Small Business Administration using the contact information below:

Other programs to help survivors include:

  • Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund
    The Maui Strong Fund is receiving donations to support communities affected by the wildfires to aid in shelter, food, and financial assistance. HCF is working closely with state and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and philanthropists to discover what each community needs. HCF is not charging a fee for donations to the Maui Strong Fund and is distributing 100% of the funds to the community.
  • Lahui Foundation
    The Lahui Foundation is a registered non-profit collecting monetary donations to help those affected by the wildfire.
  • Maui Food Bank
    The Maui Food Bank is an on-the-ground resource distributing food and other necessities to Maui Fire victims. They are currently seeking donations for food, hygiene items, baby items and toiletries to be passed out to those in need at various collection and distribution sites on Maui. Survivors and donors can find them at the following locations:
    • Central Maui - King’s Cathedral
      • Donation collection site, shelter, meal distribution
      • Open Daily 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
      • 777 Maui Veterans Hwy, Kahului (map)
    • South Maui - Calvary Chapel South Maui
      • Donation collection site, grocery distribution
      • Open Daily 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
      • 320 Ohukai Rd, Ste 420, Kihei (map)

US Small Business Association Opens Maui Fire Recovery Center in Kihei

In a partnership with Hawaii Technology Development Corporation and the Hawaii Small Business Development Center, the US Small Business Association (SBA) opened a Business Recovery Center in Kihei on August 16.

The center is providing assistance to small businesses affected by the fire, helping them to apply for SBA disaster loans to finance their recovery, and offering assistance “assessing business working capital needs, evaluating the business’s strength, cash flow projections, and most importantly, a review of options with the business owner to help them evaluate their alternatives and make decisions that are appropriate for their situation,” according to Wayne Wong, Maui Small Business Development Center Director.

Tanya N. Garfield, Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West, said the center “will provide a one-stop location for businesses to access a variety of specialized help. SBA customer service representatives will be available to meet individually with each business owner.” 

No appointment is necessary and all services are provided free of charge.

According to SBA, businesses of any size and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. These loans cover losses that are not fully covered by insurance or other recoveries.

For a list of locations, or to receive additional disaster assistance information, visit SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for property damage is Oct. 10, 2023. The deadline to apply for economic injury is May 10, 2024.

Unemployment Benefits for Maui Fire Victims

Employees displaced by the Maui Fire can begin filing for unemployment benefits with the State of Hawaii immediately. The best way to file a claim is online, at https://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/.

Claims can be filed in-person at the Maui Unemployment Insurance Office, which is located in Wailuku at the State Building at 54 South High Street, Room 201. They are accepting walk-ins, but wait times may be lengthy. Identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or State ID card, is required to file a claim in person. Photocopies will be accepted.

The State calculates employees’ benefits based on their wages. Full unemployment pays up to a maximum of $763 per week, and employees can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks in the one year called a “benefit year.”

Visit ProService Hawaii’s Maui Resource Center for more information and updates.

Shelter for Maui Fire Victims

Here are a few of the places survivors can go to seek shelter:

Mental Health Services for Maui Fire Victims

Survivors seeking mental health services should contact the Maui District Health Office using the contact information below.

Animal Assistance for Maui Fire Victims

Survivors seeking animal assistance services should contact the Maui Humane Society using the contact information below.

Maui Fire Cause Still Under Investigation As Videos Showing Downed Power Lines Spark New Questions

What role did downed power lines play in the spread of the Maui Fire? A video taken during the fire shows a wooden power line going down and quickly igniting the dry grass on which it stood. The video raises new questions as to whether Hawaiian Electric Co. is responsible for the blaze, and a Maui wildfire lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of victims.

The suit cites the utility company’s own documents, which show the company was well aware that preemptive power shut-offs were effective in preventing wildfires, even though it never implemented them.

The National Weather Service had already issued a Red Flag Warning in the area at the time, but electricity continued to flow through the local power lines.

News and Updates

President Biden to Visit Maui Next Week

According to the White House, within hours of the devastating fires, President Biden signed a Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii and told Governor Josh Green that the Federal Government stands ready to provide additional assistance to ensure the state recovers.

The President will visit Hawai’i next Monday “see first-hand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort,” according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

“The president continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawai'i need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster,” she added.

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Contact a Maui Fire Attorney Right Away

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

Compensation for Maui Fire Victims

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

  • Expensive Evacuation
  • Wrongful Death from Fire or Smoke
  • Hospitalization
  • Serious Burns
  • Other Serious Personal Injury
  • Long-Term Health Effects
  • Psychological Impact
  • Home Loss
  • Structure Loss
  • Damage to Animals/Pets
  • Damage to Timber/Trees
  • Erosion
  • Vegetation Loss
  • Damage to Landscaping
  • Significant Property Damage
  • Economic Loss
  • Agriculture Loss
  • Damage to Infrastructure
  • Business Loss
  • Business Interruption
  • Smoke Damage
  • Damage from Soot & Ash
  • Underinsured Property
  • FEMA Assistance
  • Utility & Other Service Interruptions
  • Housing Market Impacts

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