HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – State Attorney General Anne Lopez on Wednesday released what’s been described as the first phase of an exhaustive probe into the catastrophic Maui wildfires, offering a minute-by-minute timeline of how flames engulfed Lahaina.

The long-awaited report and related documents were posted on the state’s website.

The investigation did not consider a cause — that’s being handled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. Rather, the first phase focused on three main areas: pre-fire conditions and how the environment played a role, the fire’s progression, and the emergency response.

“This phase one is so that we can understand what happened on a minute-by-minute basis,” Lopez said, at a news conference with the report’s lead authors. “The underlying foundation of this report is not to place blame on anybody. This is about never letting this happen again.”

The highly anticipated report has approximately 12,000 data point on how the state and county functioned prior to and during the wildifre.

The 400-page report was released after months of delay, largely blamed on challenges with getting information and access to Maui County employees and officials. The Fire Safety Research Institute was contracted to handle the independent probe at a cost of more than $1.5 million. The second phase will analyze the response while phase three will include recommendations.

Derek Alkonis, research program manager at the fire safety institute, said phase one was intentionally designed as a starting point. “We wanted to understand the areas where lives were lost, understand the fire’s progression through those areas, which required hundreds of pictures and videos on the ground, from the air, and even reaching out to residents,” he said.

The report’s release comes a day after the Maui Fire Department presented the results and recommendations from its “after-action” report on last year’s wildfire devastation, saying changes had already been made based on lessons learned.


For Maui residents, the report’s findings may be interesting — but they won’t be surprising.

Attorney Elizabeth Nardi lost her home in the fire and was trapped in Lahaina like thousands of other residents, desperately trying to escape. After taking a look at the report, she said that “nothing was shocking because I lived that day. So I knew. None of this is surprising.”

Jon Givens, an attorney representing victims and their families, said he’s disappointed more than eight months after the disaster it remains unclear how the fires started and who is responsible.


This story will be updated.


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