Maui emergency management director resigns citing health reasons amid fierce criticism

The head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency - who has faced fierce criticism for failing to activate disaster sirens during last week’s wildfire response - has resigned, citing health reasons.

Despite the backlash, Herman Andaya defended not sounding the alarms, saying residents may have panicked and moved to areas where the flames were raging.

“Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible and I look forward to making that announcement soon,” the Mayor of Maui County Richard Bissen said in the statement.

Hawaii has what it touts as the largest system of outdoor alert sirens in the world. The system was created after a 1946 tsunami that killed more than 150 people, and its website says they may be used to alert for fires.

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez said that an outside organisation will conduct “an impartial, independent” review into the government’s response to the fires.

“We intend to look at this critical incident to facilitate any necessary corrective action and to advance future emergency preparedness,” Lopez said in a statement.

She said the investigation will likely take months.