Fireworks, dry season make dangerous mix
FOURTH of July fireworks
Officials are concerned about brush fires as residents get ready to celebrate July 4.
boost the risk of brush fires
just as the dry conditions of summer set in. Pyrotechnic fanciers who cannot resist the lure of igniting a fuse are warned to be careful out there, not only for their own safety but for the community at large.
In the past week, three blazes sent firefighters to Hawaii Kai, Kapolei and Waialua. Though the fires were quickly controlled, burns in 2005 consumed scores of acres and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property, taxing resources and threatening homes and lives.
So bad was the brush fire season last year that the state Legislature passed a new law that increases penalties for intentionally set fires.
However, another law approved this year makes it easier for fireworks fans to get their hands on the noisy devices. Instead of having counties issue permits to set off firecrackers, the law allows fireworks retailers to sell the $25 permit, an easier one-stop process.
The saving grace for mostly urban Oahu is that authorities have yet to work out guidelines for retailers, obligating Honolulu residents to go to satellite city halls to get permits.
Fire officials say heavy winter rains have produced an abundance of fuel for brush fires. Even though summer hasn't parched bushes and grass as yet, the threat for bigger, smoky blazes remains high.
There were nearly 1,000 brush fires on Oahu in 2005, many during the holiday. Injuries from fireworks have decreased, but 61 percent involved children 14 years old and younger.
Hawaii residents have stubbornly resisted a ban on fireworks, some contending they are a tradition. For safety's safe, it would be better if they get their kicks from the numerous public displays that various organizations will put on to celebrate Independence Day.
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