Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. soared after the utility it owns said its power lines had been de-energized hours before a wildfire that killed at least 115 people in Maui earlier this month.
(Bloomberg) — Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. soared after the utility it owns said its power lines had been de-energized hours before a wildfire that killed at least 115 people in Maui earlier this month.
While a fire on the morning of Aug. 8 was apparently caused by power lines falling in high winds, the second, deadly blaze that swept through the town of Lahaina in the afternoon started more than six hours after Hawaiian Electric Co.’s power lines in the area had been turned off, the utility said Monday in a statement.
Shares of parent company Hawaiian Electric Industries surged as much as 50% in pre-market trading. They had tumbled more than 70% following the disaster. Investors and Maui County sued the parent company last week, claiming the utility didn’t cut power and take safety measures to contain the fire.
Hawaiian Electric Co. said it’s “surprised and disappointed” it’s being sued by Maui County and that it has yet to be shown that the utility bears responsibility for the deadly blaze.
The utility believes Maui County’s complaint “is factually and legally irresponsible,” Hawaiian Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Shelee Kimura said in the statement.
“Unfortunately, the county’s lawsuit may leave us no choice in the legal system but to show its responsibility for what happened that day,” Kimura said.
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