An explosion that ripped through an underground fireworks bunker came as
workers dismantled pyrotechnics inside, authorities said today.
The blast killed five men and left tools, a hand truck and plastic canopy
strewn about the site. The bunker, where seized fireworks were stored before
being destroyed by Donaldson Enterprises Inc., still holds explosives that
make it too dangerous for investigators to enter. They're piecing together
what happened by combing through debris outside, poring over photos and
interviewing the lone survivor.
A team of U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigators from Denver inspected the
Waikele site this week. Lead investigator Don Holmstrom said today his team
is trying to determine exactly what the workers were doing when the blast
The investigators interviewed personnel of Donaldson Enterprises, Holmstrom
said, and found that the workers "were in the process of dismantling some of
the pyrotechnic devices that were in the storage area."
Holmstrom and his team are working on a plan to take samples from the
One of the five men died from thermal burns; the Honolulu medical examiner's
office on Thursday identified him as Bryan Cabalce, 25, of Wahiawa.
The others died from carbon monoxide inhalation. Three were identified as
Robert Freeman, 24, of Aiea; Neil Sprankle, 24, of Mililani; Justin Kelii,
29, of Kaneohe.
The deaths have been ruled accidental.
Family members have said the fifth man was Robert Leahey, 50, the younger
brother of longtime Hawaii sports broadcaster Jim Leahey.