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McCarthy Calls for Congressional Investigation into Maui Wildfires

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy indicated Wednesday that lawmakers in Washington will launch a probe into the deadly Maui fires as mounting evidence shows the government’s failure to respond appropriately.

“Look, we’ve got disasters going off in this country. We saw the devastation that has happened in Maui… I’m very concerned about the response,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters after a GOP fundraising event in Syracuse, New York. “We still have hundreds of individuals that are missing. I think there’s going to have to be a congressional investigation in response of what happened in Maui.”

The California Republican faulted the administration’s response.

“How could we lose that many Americans in today’s age? And the federal response seems very delayed,” he said. “The president’s response, to have no comment? That’s unacceptable, So I’m going to work with committees to look at investigating what went on so that never happens again, as well.”

As of Monday, at least 115 people have been confirmed dead, according to Maui police. There are also different accounts of the number of the missing.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said Sunday that more than 1,000 remained unaccounted for, while Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said in a pre-recorded video on Instagram that the number was 850.

President Biden, who visited the island after receiving backlash for telling a reporter he had “no comment” days earlier about the disaster, received a sour response over remarks he made while touring the destruction in Maui.

Mr. Biden later faced more criticism for telling Lahaina residents that he and First Lady Jill Biden “have a little sense” of the grief because their home in Wilmington, Delaware, had a kitchen fire in 2004.

“I almost lost my wife, my ‘67 Corvette and my cat,” he told the audience, adding that firefighters “ran into flames to save my wife and save my family. Not a joke.”

According to an Associated Press report at the time of the incident, the fire was under control in 20 minutes.

Critics and residents say the president appeared unsympathetic in the aftermath of the devastation.

According to reports, Hawaii failed to cut back on the island’s overgrowth of non-native grasses, making it vulnerable to such deadly blazes.

Additionally, Hawaiian Electric, the state’s utility company whose downed power line allegedly started the fire, zeroed in on green energy programs instead of preventing fires in recent years.

Also, state officials reportedly blocked off the only paved road in and out of Lahaina, causing a pile-up of vehicles that failed to escape the inferno.

M. Kaleo Manuel, former deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management, waited over five hours to release water during the wildfires as the fire hydrants in Lahaina went dry during the blaze.

A Maui official with no previous career experience in disaster management defended his agency’s decision not to sound an emergency alarm system. He resigned from his job the following day.

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