Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

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Maui fire chief pushes firecracker law

By Gary T. Kubota


Noting the rash of brush fires on the Valley Isle around the Fourth of July, Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray said he favors a ban on consumer use of fireworks in Maui County and the rest of the state.

Dozens of brush fires occurred in and around the holiday on Maui, including one in Happy Valley -- which burned off and on for three days -- traced to illegal aerial fireworks.

"The amount of calls and the amount of fires is pretty much the evidence. ... We need to take responsibility," Murray said.

"As chief, I really think a ban is necessary, especially with drought conditions we have now. It's been getting worse."

Murray said he felt a statewide ban would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to keep fireworks out of the state.

"It would get it at the root," he said. "My position is we need to look out for the safety of our citizens and visitors alike."

Act 170, passed by the 2010 state Legislature, allows each county to set its own laws regulating the use of fireworks.

The law also calls for the creation of a task force to submit a plan to stop the illegal importation of fireworks. A report by the legislative task force is scheduled to be submitted no later than Jan. 10, 2011.

Maui County Council Chairman Danny Mateo is drafting a proposed ordinance calling for a ban on fireworks. Mateo was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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