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Maui County sues Hawaiian Electric Company in wake of deadly wildfire, alleging it failed to shut off power

Maui County sued Hawaiian Electric Company on Thursday, alleging the utility negligently failed to cut off power during a period of high winds and dry conditions that fueled a deadly wildfire.

Maui County sued Hawaiian Electric Company on Thursday, saying the power company negligently failed to shut off power the during high winds and dry conditions that fueled the wildfire that tore through Lahaina.

Video as well as witness accounts from the area show sparks from power lines igniting fires while utility poles snapped due to the high winds in the area. 

The fire, which began Aug. 8, killed at least 115 people.

While it's unknown how many people are missing, the FBI said Tuesday that 1,000 to 1,100 names are on an unconfirmed list.

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"This destruction could have been avoided," the county wrote in the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the power company had a duty "to properly maintain and repair the electric transmission lines, and other equipment including utility poles associated with their transmission of electricity, and to keep vegetation properly trimmed and maintained so as to prevent contact with overhead power lines and other electric equipment."

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The county also alleges that the power company knew high winds "would topple power poles, knock down power lines, and ignite vegetation," the lawsuit said. "Defendants also knew that if their overhead electrical equipment ignited a fire, it would spread at a critically rapid rate."

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Maui County is seeking compensation for the damage that Hawaiian Electric Company caused to resources and public property in Lahaina, as well as Kula.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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