Sat, Aug 19, 2023 4:30 AM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said visitors should stay away from fire-stricken West Maui as rescue workers continue to search the area.
Rescuers completed searching about 60% of the affected area, and visitors should stay out of the site, especially those who are targeting the land, according to Green.
"I've instructed the attorney general to impose enhanced criminal penalties on anyone who tries to take advantage of victims by acquiring property of the affected areas," Green said at a Friday evening news conference.
A review of the emergency response to the fire is underway.
"We'll get to the bottom of exactly how the fire started, how our emergency procedures and protocols need to be strengthened and how we can improve our defenses to protect us in the future," Green said.
Attorney General Anne Lopez said she would use a third party to assess the response.
"This will be an impartial, independent review," Lopez said. "Having a third-party conduct the review will ensure accountability and transparency and reassure the people of Hawaii that all of the facts will be uncovered."
Maui County Emergency Management Agency Director Herman Andaya resigned this week after facing questions from reporters as to why warning sirens did not sound as the fire approached.
Andaya said the sirens are primarily used for tsunamis, and people may have fled to the mountains and closer to fire.
Green's Friday news conference differed from previous ones that included emergency personnel and Maui County officials. Green and First Lady Jaime Green spoke about the fires, with Jaime Green struggling with tears as she talked about the history and culture of Lahaina.
Officials say searching for other victims and identifying remains will take time. Eleven days after the fire, the death toll is 114.
"Tragically, it took less than a single day for us to lose Lahaina in the deadliest fire our country has seen in more than a century," Jaime Green said.
President Joe Biden will visit West Maui on Monday.