Hawaiian Electric says power lines were 'de-energized' hours before Maui wildfire

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Hawaiian Electric pushed back against the latest allegation that it sparked the deadly wildfires that swept through Maui earlier this month, saying Sunday its power lines had been de-energized for more than six hours before the fire that killed at least 115 people ignited.

This is the utility company’s first full-throated rebuttal to the allegations that its equipment and downed power lines caused the deadly wildfires that devastated the historic town of Lahaina, and it is in response to a lawsuit filed against it by Maui County on Thursday. Hundreds are still missing after the Aug. 8 blaze as authorities continue to search charred buildings and cars.

The company claims that its power lines had been de-energized earlier in the day in response to a morning fire, which the fire department said it had extinguished, disputing a key criticism that Hawaiian Electric had not shut off the power amid high winds and wildfires.

The company said in its statement that there were two fires on the day of the deadly inferno — the morning fire and one discovered by Hawaiian Electric workers in the afternoon. It admits the first was likely caused by its power lines, but it said the source of the second fire “has not been determined.”