Hawaiian Electric denies Maui County’s claim its downed power lines started Lahaina fire that killed 115

Hawaiian Electric is defending itself after Maui County sued the utility company last week, blaming it for sparking the blaze that resulted in the worst wildfire in more than a century.

More than 100 people were killed, hundreds are still missing, and billions of dollars worth of damage was done by the time the wildfire subsided.

Hawaiian Electric said that high winds toppling power lines likely caused the initial fire, but said electricity had been turned off for several hours before a second fire started later in the afternoon, according to CNBC.

The company's CEO, Shelee Kimura, addressed the lawsuit in a statement on Sunday.

“We were surprised and disappointed that the County of Maui rushed to court even before completing its own investigation,” the CEO said. “We believe the complaint is factually and legally irresponsible.”

She said the lawsuit may "leave us no choice" but to show that the county, not the company, was responsible for the deadly fire.

Hawaiian Electric is arguing that while the initial downing of power lines did cause the initial brush fire, which began at 6.30am on the day of the fire and spread to a field near the Lahaina Intermediate School, Maui County firefighters doused the blaze and declared it extinguished.

Later that day, while Hawaiian Electric employees were repairing the lines, crew members spotted a fire approximately 75 yards from the field near the school. They reported it to authorities, the company said.

The utility company said that power had been shut off for hours by the time the crew spotted the second fire in the field near the school. It claims that by the time fire crews arrived to address the fire, it had already spread beyond their ability to contain it.

More than a dozen lawsuits have already been filed against Hawaiian Electric over its alleged role in the fire.

However, state, local, and federal investigations are still determining exactly how the fire started.

The utility company is reportedly working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives — which sent an electric engineer to assist in the investigation — to prove that electricity had been shut off by the time the second fire began.