Maui’s top emergency official has abruptly resigned as he comes under increasing scrutiny over the disastrous response from local officials Forest fire Due to this, at least 111 people have died on the Hawaiian Islands.
Herman Andaya, head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, sent his resignation letter to Mayor Richard Bissen on Thursday and it was immediately accepted, Maui County confirmed in a statement.
Mr Andaya cited unspecified health reasons for his decision, with no further details given in the letter.
Mr. Bisen said that someone would be appointed for Mr. Andaya’s role as soon as possible.
“Given the seriousness of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be looking to appoint someone to this important position as soon as possible,” Mr Bisen said in a statement.
The resignation comes a day after Mr. Andaya defended his decision not to use outdoor alert sirens during wildfires that ravaged the historic seaside community of Lahaina.
“We were afraid that people might have gone AboveMr. Andaya said, using a Hawaiian word that means inland or toward the mountain.
“If that were the case, they would have gone into the fire.”
The Hawaiian government states on its website that its “all-danger” siren system is the largest of its kind in the world.
Although it was created after the 1946 tsunami that killed more than 150 people on the Big Island of Hawaii, it can be used for “both natural and human-caused events; Including tsunamis, hurricanes, dam breaches, floods, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, terrorist threats, hazardous material incidents and many more”, says the government.
As well as criticism of the siren being silenced during the fire, other questions have been raised about the local government response, including the lack of a water supply for firefighters and the management of vehicular escape routes.
The local power utility has also faced criticism for dropping supplies as strong winds were blowing through the storm in a dry area.
A video shows a cable dangling from a charred patch of grass engulfed in flames in the early stages of the wildfire.
“Facts regarding this incident will continue to develop,” Hawaiian Electric CEO Shelley Kimura wrote in an email to utility customers on Thursday.
“And while we won’t have answers for some time, we are committed, working with many others, to finding out what happened as we continue to focus our immediate efforts on Maui’s restoration and rebuilding.” “
The cause of the fire is not yet clear but the investigation is on.
Airport Attorney General Anne Lopez previously said an outside organization would conduct an “impartial, independent” review of the government’s response and that officials intended to “facilitate any necessary corrective action and advance future emergency preparedness.”
Additional reporting by agencies