Maui’s emergency management chief has resigned a day after defending his agency’s failure to activate the alarm system in last week’s fatal wildfire. Herman Andaya, who had no prior experience in emergency management, cited “health reasons” for the resignation.
Andaya said at a news conference Wednesday that he didn’t regret not hearing the island’s warning sirens as the fire approached Lahaina, home to 12,000 people.
He said he feared the sirens — most commonly sounded for tsunamis — would have sent some in Lahaina running for higher ground, potentially into the path of the fast-moving flames.
That decision, along with other perceived mistakes before, during and after the disaster that claimed at least 111 lives, angered survivors, who said they were confident the sirens could have helped save more lives.
Maui’s sophisticated system, which includes 80 sirens around the island, is tested on the first day of each month, its 60-second tone a normal part of life in Lahaina. But on the day of the fire, they were silent.