Illegal fireworks keep first responders busy on NYE - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Illegal fireworks keep first responders busy on NYE

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EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaii has a fireworks ban but that didn't stop thousands of people from skyward displays on New Year's Eve and that led to a large amount of calls for help. 

"As anticipated, EMS was very busy," says Shayne Enright, spokesperson for the city's Emergency Medical Services. "We averaged nearly 12 calls an hour.  About 200 calls between."

One man had a firework go off while he was still holding it. He was not seriously injured. Others were treated for smoke inhalation.

Honolulu Police reported 800 calls for service. Many of those, fights fueled by alcohol.

Firefighters responded to dumpster and brush fires but the biggest damage from illegal aerials, a historic home in Ewa Beach caught fire, causing more than $100,000 in damage.

"Fireworks landed on the wood shake, burned through an 8-inch hole, and embers went into the crawl space," says Kendall Ching, spokesman for HFD.
     
The home belongs to Polly Suemoto. She was watching a Korean soap opera about 7:30 p.m. when the fire started. She didn't hear the aerial hit the roof because there was already so much noise from fireworks. She also didn't notice the smoke coming from the roof because it was so smoky outside.  One of her neighbors ran over to tell her what was happening, then he grabbed a garden hose and tried to keep the flames from spreading.

There is a large hole in her ceiling and water throughout the home.  

She has lived on Orrick Street for 15 years, but will have to stay in a hotel for weeks until the home can be repaired. The home is recognized as a historic plantation home.

When asked about the use of illegal fireworks all around her, Suemoto says, "There's always fireworks, every year. But this is my bad year."

Officials say despite the ban the use of illegal pyrotechnics appears to be growing and with it, the number of problems.

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