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Man in critical condition after fireworks explosion

By Mary Vorsino and Michael Tsai

Star-Advertiser Staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:03 p.m. HST, Jan 01, 2011



Fireworks are blamed for at least five injuries on Oahu last night and this morning, including one that left a man in critical condition.

Meanwhile the Honolulu Fire Department saw an increase in fireworks-related fire calls, but no major damage was reported.

The man was injured in Pearl City, when an illegal aerial firework exploded in his hand, said James Ireland, acting director of the city Emergency Services Department.

In a separate incident, a woman and two children were taken to a hospital with minor to serious burns after an illegal aerial firework exploded within 10 feet of them.

Paramedics also assisted a man who sustained minor burns after a "jumping jack" firework went off in his hand. He refused transport to a hospital.

Altogether, paramedics responded to 27 calls of people in respiratory distress, about half appeared to be fireworks-related.

Ireland said the fireworks injuries do not include people who drove themselves to the hospital.

"It was a very busy night," he said.

Firefighters were also busy last night and this morning responding to 81 fire calls, 36 of which were probably fireworks-related.

Last New Year's, firefighters responded to 30 fireworks-related calls.

The fire calls on New Year's Eve and this morning included two structure fires and four brush fires that were probably caused by fireworks, up from one fireworks-related structure fire and six brush fires when Oahu residents rang in 2010.

There were also 19 rubbish fires that were believed to be fireworks-related last night and this morning, up from 13 over the same period a year ago.

"We saw an increase in nuisance fires," said Capt. Terry Seelig, adding that firefighters also spotted "quite a number of aerials" going off.

He added that recent heavy rains probably helped keep the number of brush fires down.

Aerial fireworks are illegal, and starting in 2011 all fireworks except firecrackers are banned for  consumer use on Oahu.

Revelers bought 10,008 permits for firecrackers on Oahu to ring in 2010, a four-year high. Each permit allows the bearer to buy 5,000 firecrackers.

An illegal aerial firework is believed to be the cause of a fire that caused an estimated $15,000 in damage to a storage unit at a Kaneohe home last night.

Witnesses said they saw a rocket hit a storage unit directly next to a home. The firework apparently burned through the plastic roof and ignited the contents inside.

Neighbors battled the blaze with water hoses until the firefighters arrived. The fire was extinguished by 8:44 p.m.

About an hour later, firefighters responded to a call at a home on Kalihi Street, where one or more dropped sparklers apparently rolled down a flight of stairs and ignited a fire in a downstairs storage unit, Seelig said.

The fire, which was extinguished at 9:59 p.m., caused an estimated $750 in damage

Firefighters were called to at least two brush fires yesterday afternoon. The first was behind Noholoa Neighborhood Park in Mililani. The 1:50 p.m. fire burned nearly an acre of brush and grass in a gulch, but did not threaten any homes or property.

Another brush fire was on Piliokahi Avenue in Nanakuli.






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