Maui Emergency Management Administrator Resigns

TOPSHOT - An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes, buildings, and the harbor area burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. At least 36 people have died after a fast-moving wildfire turned Lahaina to ashes, officials said August 9, as visitors asked to leave the island of Maui found themselves stranded at the airport. The fires began burning early August 8, scorching thousands of acres and putting homes, businesses and 35,000 lives at risk on Maui, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes, buildings, and the harbor area burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Roy Francis
9:41 AM – Friday, August 18, 2023

The administrator of Maui’s Emergency Management agency, who decided not to sound the emergency sirens, resigned on Thursday citing health reasons.

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The resignation of Herman Andaya, Maui’s Emergency Management Agency Administrator, came a day after he attempted to explain why the emergency siren system had not sounded during the deadliest wildfire the country has seen in over 100 years.

The explanation that Andaya gave for not sounding the emergency siren system was that those sirens were primarily used for tsunamis. He stated that if he had sounded them, he feared that people would rush towards the mountains and the blaze.

Residents of Maui were skeptical and outraged at the reasoning that Andaya gave. Many said that the sirens would have helped them prepare better.

“If I would have heard the siren that morning, I would have at least prepared, you know, packed something in my car, called my parents,” Alex Calma, a resident who lost his home to the fires, said.

Speaking with CNN on Thursday, state Senator Angus Mckelvey, the Democrat who represents the town of Lahaina which was devastated by the fires, and who also lost his home as well, said he was outraged by Andaya’s response and that it was “insulting.”

“I’ve heard the line that ‘people would have panicked and ran up to the mountains because it’s a tsunami siren.’ … It’s insulting to think that people would be that clueless, that they wouldn’t know that sirens blasting was because of the fire,” he told CNN, “These are not tsunami sirens. They’re disaster sirens.”

When asked during a press conferenced if he regretted his decision to not sound the sirens, Andaya said that he does not regret it.

Maui County Mayor, Richard Bissen, said that the resignation of Andaya is “effective immediately” and that they are working on filling his post “as quickly as possible.”

“Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible and I look forward to making that announcement soon,” the Mayor announced.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the Lahaina fire is the deadliest fire in the country in over 100 years.

On Wednesday, the death toll rose to 111 people, and around 2,200 structures were damaged by the fire, the majority of which were residential.

According to Maui County, the devastation caused by the fire will cost around $5.5 billion to fix, although the number is still on the rise as well.

The cause of the fire is still currently under investigation by local authorities. On Thursday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced that the agency’s National Response Team will be traveling to the island to help with the investigation.

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