Interview: Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura discusses Lahaina wildfire response

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VC: Wendy Osher (11:30 a.m. Aug. 20, 2023) interview with Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura.

Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura shares details regarding wildfire response to the deadly fire in Lahaina that started on Aug. 8, 2023.

Some of the questions covered include the following:

  1. Could you run us through what happened on scene at the Lahaina fire on Aug. 8 by providing a recap of significant times at which actions took place? Including:  What time crews got called back to address the flare-up; What time did the fire truck get overrun; and what time were evacuations called for specific communities.
  2. To get an understanding of how quickly the fire spread, was there a point of acceleration when the fire spread down the hill, or did it take place over the course of an hour or hours before it got to front street?  
  3. Was there any break in communications between the field and fire crews? If so, could you explain. For clarity, was the EOC in constant communication, and was it relayed that there was an imminent threat to life? 
  4. For many in the Maui community, it wasnʻt apparent to the public just how bad and extensive the destruction was until the days that followed.  Do you feel the gravity of the situation was known among the Emergency team? 
  5. We are hearing that there were no air drops all day due to the high winds, and fire hydrants were running out of water. Has lack of water ever been a concern for the department? In all your years of firefighting, has a fire hydrant ever run out of water on a crew from Maui before?
  6. The US Fire Administrator was on Maui and provided a hypothesis early on of what elements contributed to the fire. Have you learned anything new in the last 12 days regarding potential accelerants, or contributing factors?
  7. How is the Maui MFD team holding up and is there any way that the community can help specifically with the members that lost homes, and the firefighter who is hospitalized.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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