According to Lt. Nick Krau of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, some Maui Policeofficers who fought against the fierce inferno which began early August evacuated families without appropriate equipment, even as their own homes had been reduced to ashes.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital on Tuesday, Krau said that nine police officers lost their homes. “They are evacuating and trying to evacuate people while their home is also burning two or three streets away.”
Krau reported that despite the lack of preparation, officers still came to work, leaving behind their families, to continue rescue operations alongside Maui firefighters.
According to the University of Hawaii Pacific Disaster Center, the wildfire that started Aug. 8 in Lahaina burned 2,170 acres and killed over 100 people. It also destroyed 2,200 homes — most of them residential. Rebuilding will cost approximately $5.52 billion.
Krau, who was on the ground in the first few days responding to fires, said that he was “totally ill-prepared” and was “in shock” at what he witnessed. He was shocked to see a part of his own community in flames.
He said, “It is unimaginable to see what the community has been through.” “It’s much, much worse that what you see on the news.”
Maui Police Department is not immune from the shortage of staff in police departments throughout the country. Krau says the department should have 400 officers instead of 300.
Krau wondered whether more officers could have made a significant difference to the emergency response. He said that many officers felt guilty for not being able start rescue operations earlier because there wasn’t a mass alert system.
The department was not equipped to respond at the required level, and officers were left without the necessary equipment for dealing with the fires – despite the fact that they had been through it before. Krau bought protective equipment from Home Depot and various hardware stores.
Krau stated that “the County of Maui and the Maui Police Department have failed to protect our officers against these chemicals and toxic substances when responding to fires.”
A wildfire erupted in West Maui on August 2018. It destroyed 21 homes and burned more than 2,100 acres. Damages totaled $4.3 million.
Krau, along with other officers, said that they were aware it would happen again. County officials had also been warned.
After the fire on Aug. 29, 2018, state and county officials held an emotional meeting where they listened to residents’ emotional outcry for nearly three hours. Maui residents at the time were furious with officials for not having hazard warning sirens and no evacuation plan. They also questioned why there was no power cut off despite the high winds.
Krau stated that “this was predictable and therefore preventable.” “We knew this because the wildland in that area had not been maintained since 2018. No fire breaks, no green zones, no green belts were made to prevent another forest fire.
Last week, the County of Maui filed a lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric Company alleging that the company failed to shut off power in spite of high winds and dry weather.
According to the lawsuit, the company knew that the wind “would topple poles and power lines, as well as ignite vegetation.” The defendants also knew that their electrical equipment would ignite a fire at a critical rate if it was exposed to the wind.
Hawaiian Electric Company responded by saying they were “very disappointed” that Maui County had chosen this litigation path, while the investigation was still ongoing.
Fox News Digital reached out to County of Maui for comment.