Maui Emergency Official Defends Not Sounding Island’s 80 Warning Sirens as Fire Engulfed Island Amid Death Toll Reaching 111

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The man in command of the Maui Emergency Management Agency is defending his decision not to use the island’s vast network of alarms to warn residents about deadly wildfires last week.

Officials on the island are searching for hundreds of people still missing following the devastating blazes in Hawaii.

Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said Wednesday that 111 people are confirmed dead, according to CNN.

Many on the island have raised questions about whether that number should be much lower.

There are 80 sirens on Maui that are generally used for tsunami warnings but could have been used to warn people as the fires spread to Lahaina on Maui’s west coast, CNN reported.

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The alarms were never activated when fires spread beyond control last week.

Herman Andaya, administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, doubled down on the decision not to use them on Wednesday while addressing the media.

When he was asked if he regretted not using the sirens, he said, “I do not.”

Do you believe Andaya made the right decision?

Yes: 9% (89 Votes)

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Andaya said if the country had activated the sirens, people would have run eastward into the mountains and toward the fires, rather than to the coast away from them.

“Even if we sounded the sirens, it would not have saved those people on the mountainside,” he said defiantly.

People caught off guard by the fires in many cases resorted to jumping into the ocean in order to save themselves.

Numerous videos posted on social media showed people whose last refuge was the waters off Maui’s coast:

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County officials never activated the sirens, instead choosing to send out warnings using radio, television and text messages.

“It is our practice to use the most effective means of conveying an emergency message to the public during a wildland fire,” Andaya said.

CNN reported the networks needed to broadcast such messages were disabled by the fires, which quickly burned down entire communities.

More than 1,000 people were still missing as of Thursday.

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