Headline RoundupAugust 17th, 2023

What Caused the Maui Fires?

Summary from the AllSides News Team

As the death toll from Maui's wildfires continues to rise, many are looking to assign blame.

Possible Causes: Video shows fires starting as trees fell on power lines, leading some to blame Hawaii's electric utility equipment for the initial ignition. A firm that monitors grid sensors also reported dozens of electrical disruptions in the hours before the fires. Hawaiian Electric is facing class-action lawsuits for purported negligence in leaving the power on during the storm. In addition, scientists and farmers are blaming highly flammable, invasive plant species for helping the fires spread.

Climate Angle? A 2022 study from the International Journal of Wildland Fire suggests that wildfires spread may more quickly because of drought and heat amplified by greenhouse gas emissions. Hawaii is currently in its dry season.

How the Media Covered It: Outlets across the spectrum agreed that invasive plants and irresponsible power grid management seem to be the fire's main catalysts. Many left-rated outlets, including CNN, The Guardian, Associated Press (all Lean Left bias), and HuffPost (Left), also suggested that climate change made the fires worse. One opinion from Washington Examiner (Lean Right) accused Democrats who blamed climate change for the fires of exploiting "tragedy to push their climate change agendas," and said the cause was instead "failure to adequately manage invasive species." Outlets across the spectrum, including New York Times (Lean Left) and New York Post (Lean Right), highlighted reports about the flammable invasive plants.

Featured Coverage of this Story

More headline roundups

AllSides Picks

More News about Environment from the Left, Center and Right

From the Left

From the Center

From the Right