The official in charge of Maui Emergency Management Agency said on Wednesday that he does not regret leaving emergency sirens off as he believes they would not have helped to save people from the blaze.
Chief Herman Andaya defended his decision after questions came from a reporter that said several families thought their neighbors and relatives could have been saved had the sirens went off.
Andaya told the reporters that because people are used to tsunamis on the island, the siren would have caused them to flee to higher ground where the blaze was raging in the mountains.
“Had we sounded the siren that night, we’re afraid that people would have gotten mauka [toward the mountains] and if that was the case, then they would have gone into the fire,” Andaya said.
The reporter also pointed out that Andaya did not have any emergency crisis management experience prior to taking on the role in 2017.
Andaya responded to this accusation, saying, "The new story talks about how I didn’t have experience before taking a job and that’s not true." He listed his work history in the housing department and as a staffer in the mayor's cabinet where he "reported to the emergency operation centers.”
Justifying his placement further, he said, “Also, during a time we went through numerous trainings as well. And so, to say that I am not qualified, I think, is incorrect, “Also during a time we went through numerous trainings as well. And so to say that I am not qualified, I think, is incorrect."
At least 110 people have been reportedly killed in the blaze as of Wednesday, although the final death toll is still unclear as search and rescue teams go through the island.
The causes of the fire are still under investigation. Some in corporate media have blamed climate change as the cause of the fire. A video has also emerged about downed power lines that may have been the start of the fire.
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