Best of AP — Honorable Mention


AP IDs bare wires, leaning poles as possible cause of Maui fires


Jennifer McDermott, Bernard Condon and Michael Biesecker made the AP the first media to write the story of the likely cause of the Maui fires — bare copper electrical line that sparked on contact and power poles that couldn’t stand up to the wind. McDermott plowed through some of the driest documents in the world, public utilities commission filings, and began to prove that the wires on Maui’s electrical distribution grid were bare metal — able to spark a fire the moment they touch ground. Condon discovered that Maui’s power poles were considered, in their owner’s own words, in need of replacement and unable to withstand even the weakest hurricane. Biesecker analyzed Google images and aerial photographs to conclusively state what the other reporting had found. One hurdle was that the agency that knew the answer was saying nothing. Not until the story was published did Hawaiian Electric make a statement.

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