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September 28, 2023 



Maui Fire Victims Attend First Congressional Hearing on Deadly August 8th Lahaina Fire to Demand Answers from Hawaiian Electric CEO and Utilities

Clients of Bickerton Law Group LLLP and Andrews & Thornton Also Submit Written Testimony to House Energy & Commerce Committee

Washington, D.C. – September 28, 2023 – At least eight victims and survivors of the August 8th Lahaina fire traveled to Washington to hear Hawaiian Electric President & CEO Shelee Kimura, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chairman Leodoloff R. Asuncion, Jr., and Hawai‘i State Energy Office’s Chief Energy Officer Mark B. Glick testify today before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing entitled “Investigating The Role Of Electric Infrastructure In The Catastrophic Maui Fire” notably excluded oral testimony from victims, so they instead submitted their testimony in writing ahead of the hearing. Excerpts from the testimony – which can be found in full here – are included below.

The following individuals traveled from all over the country to attend the hearing, including from Hawai‘i, Oregon, and Illinois. They were accompanied by Anne Andrews, Founding and Co-Managing Partner of Andrews & Thornton, a leading national personal injury and mass torts firm, and are jointly represented by Bickerton Law Group, a Honolulu-based firm with more than three decades of experience serving people and businesses in Hawai‘i with experience in grass-originated and grass-fed fire litigation.

Excerpt From Written Testimony Submitted by Kathleen Hennricks, Sister of Maui Fire Victim Rebecca Rans

My sister died alongside her loving partner of twelve years, Doug Gleoge, just a few blocks from their home as they attempted to escape the fires that ravaged their beloved Maui. The biggest tragedy is that my sister’s deaths and the losses to our family were completely preventable. … It is agonizing to think of the pain and terror she must have felt while trying desperately to escape. … It is imperative that as victims and families of victims we find out why this was allowed to happen, especially with Maui’s wildfires in 2018 to forewarn the responsible parties. We cannot let history repeat itself for a third time. No one should have to go through what my sister went through, and no one should have to deal with the loss of their family or loved one like our family has.

Excerpt From Written Testimony Submitted by Jon Gloege and Andrea Wheeler, Children of Maui Fire Victim Doug Gloege

Our dad’s connection to the island of Maui was profound. His family were fourth-generation homeowners on that very land, a place where our roots run deep. … Perhaps the most excruciating aspect of this ordeal has been the condition of our dad’s remains. The fire’s ferocity left his body unrecognizable, rendering viewing impossible. The weight of this reality is one that we both continue to grapple with daily. …While we thank you for having this hearing, we are disappointed and angry that you did not feel it necessary to hear the voice of even one victim.

Excerpt From Written Testimony Submitted by Andrea and Doc Ellis Pekelo, Survivors of 2018 and 2023 Maui Fires

My husband and I have lived in fear for these past five years since the fires that consumed Maui in 2018. I am a lifelong resident of Lahaina, and my husband is a native Hawaiian with roots going many, many generations back to the sacred town of Lahaina, where his ancestors lived and are buried. This land that we have loved and cherished for so long has become a toxic, burnt wasteland as a result of these fires. Our neighborhood is a disaster site closed to the public, preventing us from living in our home. …We personally witnessed the destruction of the Maui wildfires that took place in 2018, and we hoped we would never have to see something like that again. To our despair, our worst nightmare repeated itself. … We want Congress and this Committee to know that this fire was preventable and that we have a responsibility to ensure it never happens again.

Excerpt From Written Testimony Submitted by Brian Kinley, Who Was Leading a Scuba Diving Trip in Lahaina on August 8th

I am Brian Kinley, owner of Azimuth Scuba, a diving shop located in Rockford, Illinois, and I am a witness to the tragedy that took place in Maui this August. …What should have been a wonderful trip to celebrate the success of two newly trained diving instructors became a nightmarish fight for our lives. … Our group received absolutely no assistance from state or HECO officials regarding notice of the fire or when or how to evacuate. … The most upsetting truth is knowing firsthand that additional efforts by state or HECO officials to warn the public of the approaching fire would have resulted in many lives being saved. Simply warning the public to be better prepared for an evacuation would have made a world of difference. It’s important that we collectively determine who was at fault and what measures must be taken to prevent it from ever happening again.

 Excerpt From Written Testimony Submitted by Jim and Elsa Eberle, Longtime Lahaina Residents and Parents of Andrea Pekelo

Our connection to Lahaina dates back to when we first exchanged vows at the beautiful Maria Lanakila Church, decades ago. Although we later moved away, we could never truly sever the bond we had formed with this enchanting island. … The recent Maui Fire has not only destroyed homes and livelihoods but has inflicted deep emotional wounds that may never fully heal. The citizens of Lahaina are highly traumatized, and the scars of this tragedy run deep. They have lost not only their material possessions but, more painfully, their friends, family, and the very sense of community that defined their lives. We saw this trauma firsthand during the 2018 Maui Fires when we almost lost our beloved daughter Andrea, and her husband, Doc Ellis. The pain, the fear, and the sense of déjà vu during the recent catastrophe were excruciatingly tormenting.

The above individuals were accompanied at the hearing by Anne Andrews, Founding Partner of Andrews & Thornton. She stated: “It’s indefensible that invasive, highly flammable vegetation was allowed to grow rampant right next to Lahaina without any sort of management. Fires like the one that destroyed Lahaina on August 8th have happened before under nearly identical conditions, yet the responsible parties failed to take action and adequately prepare, resulting in the wrongful and preventable deaths of over 97 people.”

The above individuals are jointly represented by Bridget G. Morgan-Bickerton, Managing Partner of Bickerton Law Group: “Hawai‘i residents know that our state is susceptible to high winds and ferocious storms. The storms follow a typical and predictable track, with strong winds downing tree and power lines, sparking fire in the grasslands, which spreads rapidly after being fanned by strong wind gusts. The County, State, utilities and landowners were given an astounding five years to prepare between major fires in Lahaina, but did nothing. The result was catastrophic.”

“Everyone has been looking at the spark and ignoring the fuel,” said James Bickerton, Founding Partner of Bickerton Law Group. “Because of our firm’s work on the earlier Parker Ranch fire – which was environmentally devastating, though less deadly – we immediately understood the role fuel plays in fires in our state. The fuel here was vast expanses of neglected, invasive, non-native and flammable grasses and brush vegetation.”

About Bickerton Law Group LLLP

Bickerton Law Group is one of Honolulu’s premier litigation law firms. Widely respected in Hawai‘i’s legal community, Bickerton Law Group attorneys are known for their tenacity, innovation, and practicality in helping accident, fire, and malpractice victims, injured consumers, employees, and public figures navigate the legal system. Since 1989, its Honolulu litigation attorneys have successfully represented clients on matters as wide-ranging as wrongful death and substantial personal injury, class actions, unfair competition, wrongful termination, public interest advocacy, professional liability and medical malpractice, protecting Hawai‘i’s land, people, and open government. Learn more at

About Andrews & Thornton

Through successful litigations against companies that made harmful products, Andrews & Thornton has obtained compensation for injured consumers through the combined knowledge of over fifty years of legal experience. Andrews & Thornton has been a leader in pharmaceutical, medical device and dietary supplement litigation, prosecuting lawsuits in State and Federal District Courts. Its attorneys have earned a national reputation as effective mass tort advocates and have been asked to participate with mass tort leadership in California, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Minnesota. Andrews & Thornton has also worked inside some of the largest corporate bankruptcies in history to secure compensation for victims. Andrews & Thornton has helped negotiate billions in compensation for victims in bankruptcies, including $13.5 billion for PG&E fire victims (Camp Fire, Nuns Fire, Atlas Fire, Tubbs Fire). Learn more at

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